Opposition bill would provide paid leave for sexual violence victims on P.E.I.
'The day that I put words to my pain and suffering was the day that my life changed forever'
An Opposition bill that would allow paid leave for Islanders who have experienced domestic or sexual violence has passed second reading in the P.E.I. legislature, with a "friendly amendment" from the Liberal government and a push from a former NHL star.
The private members bill, Bill 116, was introduced by PC MLA Steven Myers and proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act that would give employees up to three days paid leave after experiencing domestic or sexual violence — as long as they've been working for at least three consecutive months.
All the bill needs now is a third reading and royal assent before it becomes law.
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"When somebody has experienced this sort of trauma it's very important for them to have the time to find the resources, to reach out to the services that might be available that can help them deal with this type of trauma," PC Leader James Aylward told CBC News.
"I can't imagine government wouldn't agree with it."
Our department was looking at things like this over the summer, but this bill is a good bill.— Sonny Gallant
Government did, and even suggested the bill be amended to include an additional seven days of unpaid leave, on top of the three days proposed by the Opposition.
"Our department was looking at things like this over the summer, but this bill is a good bill," Workforce Minister Sonny Gallant said in committee on Thursday.
Gallant asked for a "friendly amendment" to include the seven additional days, with Myers's blessing. Once agreed upon, Myers and Gallant received a round of applause from the room.
'My life changed forever'
Former NHL star Theo Fleury also presented to the committee as an advocate for "all trauma survivors in Canada," he said.
Fleury wrote the book Playing With Fire in 2009, which documented his hockey career and battle with addictions and also wrote about how he had been sexually abused by former hockey coach Graham James.
He said the P.E.I. bill finally gives a voice to those suffering in silence, like he had.
"The day that I found my own voice, the day that I put words to my pain and suffering, was the day that my life changed forever. And so that is essentially the reason why I'm here," Fleury told CBC News, "to support a group of leaders that see this in the same light that I do."
The bill will now go for third reading and regulations will have to be written before the bill can be enacted.
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With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan