Question Period Highlight – Sexual Violence Against Women and Workplace Protection

November 4, 2014

Your NDP MLAs are hard at work in the legislature this fall, holding the government to account during Question Period on a number of key issues, including job loses since Stephen McNeil became Premier, and how the Liberals’ health board amalgamation distraction is causing their government to take their eye off what really matters – front line care. Here is a question NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald asked Stephen McNeil about protection for women facing sexual violence in the workplace.

MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. I think we have all been startled by details coming out about the alleged conduct of a very prominent media personality lately, and it has caused all to reflect on how little things have actually improved for women who are sexually abused or harassed, even assaulted at work. In light of the attention this issue has received recently, I want to ask the Premier what steps is his government taking to ensure that workplaces in Nova Scotia are safe and free from sexual violence against women?

STEPHEN MCNEIL: I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I want to also inform the House, as she knows, coming in the last campaign we committed $2 million to a sexual violence strategy in this province. We continue to work through the Minister of Community Services, the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, to ensure that workplaces across this province are safe from violence. We also want to ensure that households across this place are safe, that women and children feel safe in their own home environment, and it will be a collective responsibility, one that the government will be part of, one that we will be looking for our community partners to be part of, but we will need for all Nova Scotians to engage to ensuring that every Nova Scotian feels safe whether they are at work or at home.

MAUREEN MACDONALD: I really appreciate the Premier’s response. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has the highest rates of sexual assault in Canada so I want to ask the Premier what actions is the government taking to create an environment where Nova Scotian women feel they can report sexual violence and expect due process?

STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my earlier answer, we have committed with the resources we believe are required to ensure that the infrastructure continues to be improved. I want though to make certain that all members of this House, all Nova Scotians, recognize that we have a responsibility to encourage women who are faced with sexual violence – or violence of any kind – that there is the support infrastructure in place and that when they come forward we will support them, we will do all we can to ensure that they feel safe at work, at home, and that their children feel safe in this province.