“On December 6, as we remember the young women in Montreal and the many other women and girls that have suffered violence and have died in the decades since, we must recommit to pressing our governments to take concrete measures immediately." — James Clancy, NUPGE National President
Ottawa (06 Dec. 2015) — On December 6, 1989, fourteen young women attending L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal lost their lives to violence. A gunman entered the engineering school, segregated the women from the men, and then commenced firing at the female students. This tragic event is known as the Montreal Massacre and has become symbolic of the need to end violence against women and girls. In 1991, December 6 was declared a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.
More than 25 years later, violence against women and girls continues. However, for the first time in many years, the issue of violence against women was on the political platform during the 2015 federal election. And the newly elected Liberal government has committed to take action on the issue.
Government set to follow through on election promises dealing with violence against women
The new Minister of Status of Women Canada, Patty Hajdu, has received her mandate letter. Her top priorities have been identified as developing and implementing a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan, supporting the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to develop a process and mandate for an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and growing Canada’s network of shelters and transition houses.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) continues to work with many organizations that have been at the forefront of the issue of violence against women and the many forms that it can take. NUPGE believes that the government should engage these organizations and their knowledge as they develop policies on the issues of violence against women.
Domestic Violence at Work
The Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliates have been working with the University of Western Ontario on an initiative to address domestic violence in the workplace. As part of the initiative, it conducted a cross-Canada survey that found that one in three workers has experienced domestic violence and it has affected them in their workplace. The CLC has launched an online domestic Violence Resource Centre that contains tools and strategies for unions and their members to build awareness and to improve workplace safety. The labour movement will be lobbying for better legislation regarding domestic violence that includes paid leave and improved occupational health and safety regulations.
Blueprint for a National Action Plan on Violence against Women
The Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses (CNWSTH) in collaboration with 20 partners has developed a Blueprint for Canada’s National Action Plan. The Blueprint, endorsed by 180 organizations and unions (including the National Union), proposes a process for developing and implementing an action plan that includes prevention measures, service responses, legal and justice responses and social policy responses.
National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women
The Native Women’s Association of Canada has worked diligently to raise attention to the alarming number of Indigenous women and girls that have gone missing or have been murdered in the past decades. Along with raising awareness, NWAC has supported the families who have suffered from the loss of their loved ones. They have called on, with the support of many organizations, the federal government to conduct a national inquiry. They are stressing that an inquiry must include input from the families.
First mourn, then work for change
“On December 6, as we remember the young women in Montreal and the many other women and girls that suffered violence and have died in the decades since, we must recommit to pressing our governments to take concrete measures immediately,” said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees.
“These measures should be in collaboration with the many organizations that have been working on the issue for many years even while their message was falling on death ears. It's time for a change," he said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE