We at the Kingston Frontenac Anti-Violence Coordinating Committee (KFACC) want to commend the Kingston General Hospital Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Program, a member of our committee, for its proactive implementation of Bill 168 in relation to domestic violence.
This act amends Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act in several key ways, including a call for the protection of employees against domestic violence in the workplace in cases where employers are, or should be aware of such risks. It comes into effect on June 15, and applies to every workplace in the province, be it a business, non-profit, church, charity or association. Employers will be required to provide reasonable protection for employees, including policies and procedures to investigate and act on complaints or incidents of violence, as well as education for employees about the policy.
KGH has introduced internal training designed by the SA/DV Program to give employees an understanding of what intimate partner violence is, how it affects the workplace, how to recognize it, and how to seek help for themselves, or guide colleagues to available services.
In response to hospital employees at risk violence who come forward, KGH’s SA/DV Program and Security personnel collaborate with them to create and implement personal safety plans, diminishing the threat to their safety at the workplace.
As an organization focused on the problems of partner abuse and sexual violence in our community, KFACC applauds the province for distinguishing domestic violence as a specific threat to employee safety. The move will be helpful to efforts to prevent instances of violence against women in the workplace, such as the 2005 murder of Lori Dupont by her co-worker, who was also her former boyfriend.
On the local level, we appreciate seeing the changes in thinking and action prescribed by Bill 168, such as these initiatives from the Kingston General Hospital Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Program. Their understanding of the need to address violence against women as a societal issue raises the bar for other workplaces in our community. We hope other organizations in Kingston and Frontenac will follow KGH’s example in their own policy and procedure developments arising from the recent OHSA amendment. For more information they can visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s website at www.ontla.on.ca and check out the Bills and Lawmaking section.
KFACC is an organization working to end violence against women by raising awareness of the issues, and supporting a coordinated community response to sexual violence and partner abuse. The Committee includes agencies providing services for victims and survivors of violence, their children, their family members, and agencies that work with perpetrators. Some of the sectors represented are law enforcement and justice, shelter and housing, health, and counselling support. For more information, visit www.kfacc.org.