The B.C. government has introduced new rules to give victims of domestic or sexual violence up to five days of paid leave.
The support will also be available to parents of a child or dependent impacted by this kind of violence.
The legislation, introduced on Tuesday, was a central promise in the government’s recent speech from the throne.
“People faced with domestic and sexual violence should not have to lose pay when dealing with the aftermath,” Gender Equity Parliamentary Secretary Mitzi Dean said.
“The changes introduced today help support people so they can attend medical appointments and make the necessary changes to ensure they and their children are safe.”
Currently, people facing domestic or sexual violence may take up to 10 non-consecutive days and 15 consecutive weeks (with employers consent) of unpaid, job-protected leave.
If this legislation passes, these changes will provide up to five non-consecutive days of paid leave, five non-consecutive unpaid days and the same 15 additional unpaid weeks.
Anyone considered an employee covered by the Employment Standards Act is eligible.
B.C. and Alberta are the only two Canadian provinces that do not require employers to offer paid leave for employees facing domestic or sexual violence.
“Domestic and sexual violence are deeply traumatizing crimes,” Tracy Porteous, executive director of the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia, said.
“Although the road ahead may be the most difficult one that survivors will encounter, it can make a huge difference having informed and respectful people and processes in place that provide those harmed by these crimes the time to begin to heal.”
The proposed changes were shaped by feedback from 6,261 British Columbians as part of a public consultation process. The consultation found that most people support some paid leave for people affected by domestic or sexual violence.
“People facing domestic or sexual violence need far more supports to help them gain control of their lives than what was previously available in our province,” Labour Minister Harry Bains said.
“We consulted broadly, we listened to what people said and we’re making another important step to add to existing supports that will make a real difference in a person’s life when they need it the most.”