Domestic Violence is not a Private Matter

By Tom Sandborn

Lori Dupont arrived to her job at Windsor's Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital on a cold fall day in November 2005. Before it was time for her morning coffee break, her former lover, physician Marc Daniel, had ambushed her in a hospital corridor and brutally ended her life, stabbing her repeatedly with a military style dagger and leaving her in a pool of blood. An inquest into Dupont's death was told that her employer had failed to respond to 44 warning signs and opportunities to intervene as Daniel repeatedly harassed her at work.

The 36-year-old nurse's case, tragically, is too common. In Canada, on average, a woman is killed by her domestic partner once every six days and many more are battered, raped, stalked, harassed and emotionally abused. Experts on violence against women know that these crimes sometimes occur at the woman's workplace, and that they often have negative impacts on the victim's ability to maintain her employment, and hence the economic independence that could help her escape her abuser.

But no one really has hard data on the extent of the workplace implications of domestic violence in our country, and now the Canadian Labour Congress and Western University are partnering in a research project, launching this month, to close this knowledge gap. They are going to conduct a study that will, they hope, help inform both contract negotiations and new public policy initiatives. The study will conduct an online survey to collect data from workers across the country about their own experiences with domestic violence when it washes over into the workplace and incidents of violence they have observed in the lives of co-workers.

The invitation is for anyone (including readers of this story) over 15 to participate, men and women alike and whether or not they have experienced domestic violence directly.

In B.C., according to a paper published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives this year, 6.5 per cent of the population over 15 had experienced partner violence in the past five years. The equivalent rates of partner violence experienced in other provinces and territories range from 5.5 per cent in New Brunswick to 14 per cent in Nunavut.

The World Health Organization estimates that one in four women in Canada will experience intimate partner violence or sexual violence in her lifetime.

While some men are victims of domestic violence too, according to Stats Canada, women are reported to police as victims over four times as often as men are, and typically, women are far more seriously injured than men in such incidents.

A monetary cost, as well

Supporters of the new research note that domestic violence has a measurable economic cost as well as horrific impacts on the lives of women and children. The annual cost to Canadian employers of domestic violence, according to a 2009 federal government study was $77.9 million. When all costs associated with this phenomenon are totalled, according to the study, domestic violence annually costs Canada $7.4 billion, or $220 each for everyone in the country.

So, even if we were willing to ignore the arguments from simple human decency and fairness for studying domestic violence with a view towards eliminating it, a sound business case for such efforts exist as well, as the Globe and Mail pointed out this summer.

"We need to make the case that preventing violence against women is not only the right thing to do, it is good for business as well," Todd Minerson, executive director of the White Ribbon Campaign in Toronto, a global movement of men working to end violence against women and girls, told the Globe this July.

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How to fund improvements in class size and composition
- A matter of political will

by Seth Klein

If a compromise is to be reached in the current bargaining between teachers and the government, the long-standing issue of improving class-size and composition must be resolved.

The government insists that there is no money to make substantial improvements in this area (notwithstanding multiple court losses telling the province that it must make good on this matter).

But is it really so hard to find the funding to reduce class sizes and ensure adequate ratios and supports for students with special needs?

In truth, it’s a matter of political choice.

According to estimates from the BC treasury, the cost of restoring class size and composition to where it was five years ago is approximately $300 million. That’s quite a lot more than the government currently has on the table to deal with this matter. So where could the money come from?

Last year, Iglika Ivanova and I wrote a report entitled Progressive Tax Options for BC, which outlined a host of scenarios for how the province could raise new revenues. Any number of them would produce the needed $300 million.

For example, if the current 5th income tax bracket in BC (which only affects people earning more than $103,000 a year) were to increase from 14.7% to 17%, the province would raise about an additional $375 million a year. Notably, under this scenario, most people making over $103K would see only modest increases in their taxes. Heck, even someone making half a million dollars a year would see an increase in their tax bill of only about $9,000 (or 1.8% of their total income).

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With This One Simple Idea, Utah Is on Track to End Homelessness by 2015:
Give them an apartment first, ask questions later.


Utah has reduced its rate of chronic homelessness by 78 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015. How’d they do it? The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment.

Other states are eager to emulate Utah’s results. Wyoming has seen its homeless population more than double in the past three years, and it only provides shelter for 26 percent of them, the lowest rate in the country. City officials in Casper, Wyoming, now plan to launch a pilot program using the methods of Utah’s Housing First program. There’s no telling how far the idea might go.

Source: Wyofile



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