The October 24th Speech from the Throne, which marked the first day of the Third Session of the 28th Legislature, highlighted two very important issues that affect women who have been abused or are at risk of abuse.

During the speech, it was announced that victims of sexual violence will have access to ten days of unpaid leave. Currently, only victims of interpersonal violence are allowed to take that leave.

Jo-Anne Dusel, Executive Director of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS), said she is happy the government cleared things up.

“To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure that victims of sexual assault didn’t already fall under the previous legislation because the language used was ‘interpersonal violence and abuse.’ I’ve looked up the definition of ‘interpersonal violence and abuse’ and it ranges from very broad violence between any two individuals to a more narrow definition of individuals who have some sort of pre-existing relationship.”

Dusel said the government has been doing more and more for victims of abuse.

“Governments have been responding with legislation. We’ve seen how some high-profile offenders have actually been held accountable, which is something that’s rather new and refreshing. It’s a very positive thing for our society in that it’s coming into the light, and steps are being taken to help prevent this sort of violence.”

According to the speech, the provincial government says it plans to "become the first province in Canada with Clare's Law," which ‘would allow police to disclose information in order to better address domestic violence.’

Dusel said she was interested in one other piece that was talked about in the speech.

“One of the things in there was an increase in social assistance rates. I think that’s extremely important for women that we work with that are fleeing domestic violence. Too often, women are making a choice between staying unsafe, and taking their children and living in poverty. I don’t think it’s fair to have them make that choice.”

Dusel said that she is still waiting to see what the actual changes to the legislation and rates will be.

 

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