Western and CLC launch first ever nation-wide workplace survey on domestic violence

Western University researchers, in partnership with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), will launch a national survey on the impact of domestic violence on workers and workplaces, the first-ever survey of its kind in Canada.

The results will provide made-in-Canada findings that will help unions, employers, advocates and governments develop strong public policy, as well as negotiate workplace supports.

The survey will be officially launched on Thursday, December 5 at a special event in Room 1139, Western’s Faculty of Education Building at 11 a.m. A parallel event is scheduled for the same time at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

“There is very little Canadian data about the scope and impact of domestic violence on workers and workplaces, making it difficult for workers, unions, employers, and governments to make evidence-informed policies and deliver effective services,” says Nadine Wathen, a professor at Western’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies, who examines women’s health decision-making in her research. “We do know that having a job helps women leave a violent relationship.”

“This survey will help all of us to realize that what happens at home can have a profound impact on what happens at work and it will guide us to see where there are opportunities to keep workers and the whole workplace safe,” adds Barb MacQuarrie, Community Director at Western’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC).

The survey is online and available in English and French until June 6, 2014.  Any worker over the age of 15 is encouraged to complete the survey, whether or not they have personally experienced or witnessed domestic violence. It is completely anonymous and takes 10 to 30 minutes to complete.

CLC, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. It brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils.

“Although unions have worked hard to pressure governments to pass workplace violence legislation that offers some protection for workers experiencing violence at home, it is still not enough,” says Barbara Byers, CLC’s Executive Vice President.

“Domestic violence doesn’t stop when a women leaves for work,” says Lise Martin, the Executive Director of the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses. “And the costs to her workplace, her colleagues can be considerable, not to mention his workplace and colleagues.”

One goal of the survey is to raise awareness among employers and workers about the impacts of domestic violence, before it is too late.

“It is sadly, at the doors of health care services where we see the impact of domestic violence. This survey will help lift the cloud of secrecy linking safety at home and safety at work,” says Linda Silas, the President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU).

Citing the upcoming National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, Byers says that the labour movement believes that workplaces in general, including some unionized workplaces, still need better paid leave or unpaid leave options to help people deal with all of the effects of domestic violence. This includes time to deal with legal issues, as well as access to physical, emotional or mental health services.

“December 6th is an occasion to remember young women who lost their lives to gender-based violence. But it is also a time to commit to action,” says Byers.”Unions are uniquely placed to make a real difference to the lives of workers who may be experiencing violence in the home. And that makes work safer, for everyone.”

CREVAWC joined Western’s Faculty of Education in 2001. Founded in 1992 as a collaborative venture between Western, Fanshawe College and the London Coordinating Committee to End Women Abuse (a large organization comprised of violence against women service providers), CREVAWC was established in response to a federal study on the problem of violence against women, triggered by the 1989 murder of 14 women at École Polytechnique in Montreal.

“Domestic violence is devastating lives of Canadian workers and it is costing Canadian workplaces in lost productivity, absenteeism and turn over,” says MacQuarrie. “It’s easy to ignore those facts without evidence. This survey will change that.”

For more on the survey, please contact Nadine Wathen at 519-661-2111, ext. 88480, 519-670-3532 (cell).
For more information on CREVAWC, please visit www.learningtoendabuse.ca or contact Barb MacQuarrie at 519-860-2927 (cell).
For more on CLC, please visit www.canadianlabour.ca or contact Dennis Gruending at 613-526-7431, 613-878-6040 (cell) or dgruending@clc-ctc.ca.

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