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UFCW Canada National Council Women’s Advisory Committee
Photo L-R — Standing: Bev Dobson, Kelly Tosato, April Albrecht, Deb Kaufman, Tima Burgess, Pam Butt, Marie Buchan
Seated: Olivia-Maude Cournoyer, Anouk Collet, Nancy Quiring, Judy Hrycuik
Absent: Michelle Fedosoff, Aline Audette, Rehya Yazbek, Linda Handfield
The National Council Women’s Advisory Committee (NCWAC) recently met in Calgary to discuss a number of initiatives and issues, including women’s safety, both in and outside the workplace.
John Ratcliff, program director with the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters spoke on the issue of domestic violence and its “spill-over effect” on the workplace,including absenteeism and increased medical claims, as well women being tracked down at work and attacked by their estranged partners. He also reviewed a resource tool kit developed by the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) to assist employers, employees and unions in dealing with domestic violence at the workplace.
The session also included an overview of provincial legislation dealing with domestic-triggered workplace violence including Ontario Bill 168. In 2010, Bill 168 amended Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) in part to recognize that workplace violence of a domestic nature exists, and holds the employer accountable for protecting against such violence at the workplace. Similar legislation now exists in other provinces under their occupational health and safety acts.
The NCWAC also heard from Suzanne Dzus who for many years has been working with women victims of violence, and is the founder of Calgary's Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women which takes place on February 14 each year. Suzanne praised UFCW Canada Local 401 for their participation and promotion of the march. Joining Sister Dzus for her presentation was national representative Devin Yeager who has been a member of the Memorial March's planning committee since 2009.
Also joining the Calgary meeting was Local 401 Secretary-Treasurer Theresa McLaren. Sister McLaren was invited to share with the committee how she became involved in the union and her journey to the elected position she has now held since 2002. The committee also learned that Local 401 fundraising efforts this year also made it possible to sponsor three women’s shelter workers from across Alberta to attend a recent women’s shelter conference in Washington, DC.
"We've come to understand that violence against women is not just solely a 'women's problem'. It is also a human rights issue that can only be resolved by all of us working to solve it," says Nancy Quiring, UFCW Canada's director for the Western Region, and chair of the NCWAC. "The committee will be looking carefully at the HSSA tool kit, with a view to seeing how we may be able to utilize and make these materials accessible to local unions. It is another resource we hope to add to our workshops and programs to engage and empower women members in their union, in their personal lives, and in their communities."