The Government of Nunavut is pressing ahead with legislation to give Nunavummiut up to 17 weeks of leave to deal with family abuse and unpaid time off should they or an immediate family member require quarantine or medical treatment for Covid-19 or other public emergencies.

Minister responsible for Labour Jeannie Ehaloak says she was approached by constituents who said they need help dealing with family abuse without sacrificing their employment.
photo courtesy of the legislative assembly

The third reading of an Act to Amend the Labour Standards Act passed third reading in the legislative assembly on Monday.

Jeannie Ehaloak, minister responsible for Labour, said the legislation will have “huge impacts” on those seeking help for coping with family abuse.

“I can attest today that I was a victim and at that time I had worked for the Government of Nunavut, I had a supportive family and I had a supportive employer. At that time there was no such leave, but I pulled through because of my children,” said Ehaloak. “I know for a fact that I have family members and friends who have approached me during my campaigning as an MLA and said, ‘We need change. We need help.’”

The time away from work would allow employees to deal with the consequences of family abuse by obtaining medical care, counselling, and legal or law enforcement assistance.

Ehaloak said the GN will conduct “extensive consultations with various groups and agencies to ensure that all their concerns are addressed” in drafting specific terms.

Iqaluit Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak-Lightstone applauded the legislation.

“I first brought up the need for domestic violence leave in 2018 and I’m glad to see that this legislation was produced,” he said. “I would further like to point out that this piece of legislation is above and beyond the other pieces of domestic violence leave legislation that is across Canada, and the fact that every other jurisdiction does provide domestic violence leave, but our piece of legislation is beyond that scope and incorporates all family abuse.”

Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main also enthusiastically approved.

“I think this is a great piece of legislation. It tackles the pandemic issue in terms of allowing employees to take leave in the face of this challenge, as well as the issue of family abuse,” he said. “That’s something that I think we all would agree is far too common in Nunavut. Anything that we can do as a government to further support victims of family abuse, I think, is good news.”

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...