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Proposed law to give paid leave to domestic and sexual violence survivors

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

A bill that would give people who experience domestic or sexual violence 10 days of paid leave from work cleared a hurdle in the Ontario’s legislature Thursday.

The private member’s bill proposed by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath passed second reading with the support of both the Liberal government and Opposition Progressive Conservatives.

The bill must still be approved by a committee and voted on again by the legislature.

If passed, it would also provide up to 15 weeks of unpaid leave in addition to the paid absence provisions.

The government would cover the cost of the paid leave under the proposed legislation.

Horwath said Thursday that the bill would provide survivors of domestic or sexual violence more supports to get out of abusive relationships.

“Today, when women need to take time off work to find a safe place to live, to resettle themselves and their kids, to seek medical care or go to court, they risk losing their paycheques or losing their job all together,” she said. “All too often, that forces women to stay in dangerous situations.”

Horwath’s bill would amend the Liberal government’s own proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act which provide an unpaid sexual assault/domestic violence leave of up to 17 weeks.

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said he supported Horwath’s bill but traditionally the province does not cover pay for a worker on leave.

“I’m very supportive of it,” Flynn said. “I think it generates a discussion that I think we’ve needed for some time.”

“Whether that should be paid by the provincial government, that would be very unusual. The traditional source of funding has been the federal government for this,” he added.