The Liberals were paying close attention when Manitoba brought in legislation granting workplace leave to victims of domestic violence earlier this year.
A briefing note prepared for Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk outlines the changes to provincial labour standards that allow people in abusive situations to take time off from work — including five paid days — to seek medical attention, find a safe place to live, attend court hearings or get other services that can be hard to access outside working hours.
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Frontline service providers such as Mary Daoust of Minwaashin Lodge, which runs a 21-bed shelter in Ottawa for indigenous women and children fleeing abuse, says the ability to take time off work is vital because many victims will stay in dangerous situations out of fear they cannot afford to leave.
The memo released in response to an access-to-information request notes that while neither the new Manitoba law nor a similar private member's bill introduced in Ontario apply to federally regulated workers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Mihychuk a mandate to amend the Canada Labour Code to give employees the right to formally request flexible work arrangements.
A spokesman for Employment and Social Development Canada says officials have contacted the Manitoba government to learn more about the new leave and the department also highlighted the idea in a discussion paper about flexible work arrangements for consultations with Canadians this spring.
The department says a final report on the consultations will be available next month.