Support for women who work in transition houses

May 14, 2020
 
RE: Support for women who work in transition houses
 
Premier McNeil,
 
We applaud the federal government’s announcement to cost share wage tops-ups for critical front-line workers in the province. The challenge will be in ensuring that every front-line worker receives this well-deserved raise. All front-line workers are placing their own health and safety at risk in order to protect ours and that needs to be recognized.
 
Women’s shelters and transition houses have adapted to continue supporting women and children fleeing domestic abuse. There are reports from across the country of an increase in domestic violence during the pandemic. Sadly, the recent tragedy here in Nova Scotia where 22 people lost their lives is one extreme example. And in a time where people are confined to their homes, it makes it even more difficult for women and children to reach out for help. Transition home workers continue to provide critical, in some cases life-saving, support and services to those facing domestic violence. These workers need our support.
 
We know that working in a women’s shelter involves serious health and safety risks. Even prior to this global pandemic, workers had to deal with unknown intruders and violent partners, health emergencies, and mental illness, addiction and trauma of clients. But now, workers are subjected to further risks by going to work and being in contact with others from whom they may contract the virus. These workers interact closely with their clients, similar to front-line health-care providers in long-term care homes or hospitals. The hard work and unique challenges front-line transition home workers face due to COVID-19 must be recognized. 
 
These workers are on the front lines. 
They continue to do the critical work of supporting women and children victimized by domestic violence, while risking their health. 
They deserve our support and they deserve better compensation.
 
We call on the province to extend wage top-ups to transition home workers.
 
Colleen Coffey
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Atlantic Region
 
cc.: Gary Burrill, Leader, NS NDP
Tim Houston, Leader, NS PC
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