Tara Paterson | CUPE Staff

CUPE has long joined allies and feminist organizations in calling for a robust, long-term, fully funded plan to end gender-based violence. But the federal government’s recent National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, endorsed by provincial and territorial governments on November 9, 2022, does not go far enough to address violence at work or monitor outcomes.

The plan is proposing positive actions that provinces and territories can take in five areas: support for survivors and their families, violence prevention, improvements to the justice system, Indigenous-led approaches to ending violence, and service provision. The plan also rightfully acknowledges that gender-based violence and harassment often happen in the workplace and highlights the importance of awareness campaigns.

Unfortunately, there are no mechanisms compelling provincial and territorial governments to implement the recommended actions, no specific requirements, and no guidance on timelines or priorities. And the plan doesn’t mention Canada’s implementation of C-190 — the International Labour Organization Convention No. 190, the first global treaty on violence and harassment in the world of work.

Even worse, while CUPE and its allies have called for a significant increase in funding to social services for people affected by violence, none of the plan’s recommended actions come with new funding. Additional financing would ensure that transition house workers and other social service providers have good working conditions and fair wages to improve staff recruitment and retention in this critical field.

Finally, the plan does not lay out a robust monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL) framework, even though early investment in measuring progress to hold governments, employers and institutions accountable is critical to successful implementation of any plan to address gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is a crisis in Canada. We desperately need strong government action to prevent violence and keep women, girls, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people safe. What the federal government announced is a first step in the right direction — but it is not a meaningful and comprehensive plan.