VICTORIA, B.C. - Today the B.C. Green Caucus welcomed new legislation that will provide up to five days of paid leave for survivors of domestic or sexualized violence. The policy will ensure survivors are able to seek medical care, make any necessary housing arrangements, meet with law enforcement, or tend to other urgent matters.
“The immediate aftermath of an assault is horrific enough as it is. Survivors should not have to also worry about losing their job or income while they attend to their medical, legal, or safety needs,” said B.C. Green Party interim leader Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich-North and the Islands. “This legislative change will be critically important for those who need it. I raise my hands to everyone involved in making it a reality.”
“The shift to include survivors of sexualized violence, in addition to domestic abuse survivors, as instigated last year by the Official Opposition, is central to the strength of this policy,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley.
This change is similar to the B.C. Green Caucus Private Member’s Bill from last year which received unanimous support to amend the Residential Tenancy Act so that the right to break one’s fixed term lease following an assault in the home is not contingent on who the abuser is.
“We must always be careful we are not inadvertently creating a hierarchy of victims that leaves those who are assaulted by someone other than their partner - which is the vast majority of cases - without the services they need and deserve just as much as people in relationships,” said MLA Furstenau. “Sexual assault rates in our province remain staggeringly high.”
Over the past few years the B.C. Greens have been able to advance systemic solutions to combat systemic sexism, including: the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act in 2016 to address assault rates at post-secondary institutions, and the Residential Tenancy Amendment Act in 2019 to protect people assaulted in their home.
As raised by MLA Furstenau in question period yesterday, sexual assault rates in our province continue to rise. Proper care immediately following an assault can substantially reduce the long-term impact and costs, but stable funding for these services is severely lacking.
“The decision by multiple governments over many decades to consistently underfund the medical and justice services needed by survivors of sexualized violence is inherently sexist and dangerous to women - Indigenous and Trans women in particular,” said MLA Olsen. “Today’s progress is worth celebrating, but we must continue the work to reduce, and better respond to, instances of sexualized violence in our province.”