Saskatchewan continues to hold the dubious distinction of the province with the highest rate of domestic violence in Canada. Today, the Saskatchewan NDP tabled a bill that, if passed into law, would provide clear supports to those seeking to escape these abusive relationships.
“The high rate of domestic violence in Saskatchewan is nothing short of tragic. As a province, we need to step up and do all we can to support all victims who are struggling to get out of abusive situations,” said NDP Critic for Women as well as Justice, Corrections and Policing Nicole Sarauer after tabling Bill 603 – An act to Provide Critical Supports for Victims of Domestic Violence. “Other provinces have already taken tangible action to support victims of domestic violence and it’s well past time that we do the same here.”
Inspired by legislation passed in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, Bill 603 would ensure that victims of domestic violence would have the right to get out of rental agreements without penalty when they are fleeing domestic violence. Employers would also have an obligation to make sure that victims of domestic violence are protected while they are at work and are entitled to paid leave.
NDP Labour and Diversity, Equality and Human Rights Critic David Forbes said he and his colleagues have heard from many advocates and frontline workers in women’s shelters who said these changes are desperately needed.
“It’s a heartbreaking reality that there are women who face extreme trauma and hardship on a day-to-day basis,” Forbes said. “The fact that we’ve seen our neighbouring provinces take similar steps to those outlined in our bill shows that it’s well past time to address this issue.”