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December 5, 2016

This December 6 marks the 27th anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre.

Today, we remember the 14 women who were separated from their male classmates and murdered, only because they were women. This senseless act shocked our nation and remains a catalyst for collective action to end violence against women.

Two of the women among the 14 who were murdered at École Polytechnique were members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

As Ontarians gather in cities and towns across the province to remember the women victims of gender-based violence, Ontario’s labour movement is mobilizing to ensure that women workers do not have to choose between their paycheque and their safety.

In November, Ontario unions signed a pledge, as organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour, to negotiate paid leave for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in all collective agreements. The announcement came one day before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and with Bill 26, Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016 before the legislature.

“No woman should have to choose between her safety and her job,” said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates. “Domestic violence goes to work every day, and the labour movement is committed to making sure that it makes it easier for a survivor of domestic or sexual violence to escape violence without losing her financial stability or her job.”

To support this negotiation table priority, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) has released a guide for unions titled Domestic Violence Goes To Work Every Day: A Bargaining Guide. The guide includes specific bargaining language on the critical protection and support for workers trying to escape abuse, and workplace training and education for employers and workers.

The OFL is also joining with cross-sector community partner in supporting Bill 26, Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016. Bill 26 speaks to the pressing need to support victims of sexual and domestic violence with paid time off to see a doctor, attend a crisis centre, find a place to live, get counselling or go to court.

This year’s December 6 falls in the United Nations 16 Days Against Gender-based Violence.

December 6 is an opportunity to reflect on the tragedy of the Montréal Massacre and to reach out to all families of female victims who have survived acts of violence. It is also a time to commit to taking  collective action in support of a world in which women do not face violence.

We remember, we mourn, we take action.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.


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