DV @ Work NL Project Update: Getting the Survey our the door

The good news is that a national survey on Domestic Violence (DV) and its impact on the workforce, was circulated in 2014 and, thanks to this initial work by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and an amazing team at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) – there is ongoing work rolling right across the country. The bad news is that back in 2014, this survey’s uptake wasn’t strong in Atlantic Canada. There weren’t enough surveys completed for the results to be ‘statistically significant.’ So, the first task for the DV@WORK-NL team was to re-jig the original 2014 survey – and launch it again!

We are determined to increase participation in the survey in Newfoundland and Labrador! We want to ensure that, along with key cross-provincial comparisons that the data from the survey will offer, we will also be able to provide and analyse some new kinds of data – specifically relevant to Newfoundland and Labrador. So…

This summer involved considerable consultation with a whole host of partners. This involved painstaking edits to the original survey by NAWN, OAWA, NLFL, the Mokami Status of Women Council – along with feedback from our own board at the St. John’s Status of Women Council, and feedback by the Canadian Federation of Students at Memorial University and the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP) here in St. John’s – just to name a few. By the end of the summer our survey was carefully re-jigged with Newfoundland and Labrador in mind!

  • International students at MUN recommended some new questions that relate specifically to ‘precarious labour.’ They challenged us to gather data on students working inside the university itself and outside in precarious, part-time jobs. They also encouraged us to look carefully at how immigrants and refugees might be intercepting workplace supports.
  • Key activists from SHOP pointed out that working alone (or even isolated in a home office) might offer additional/unique challenges to women in need of resources.
  • Rich discussions in Corner Brook helped identify the way DV can impact LGBTQ2S survivors. Just as an example, without the right emergency supports, an abuser and their victim could find themselves in the same room in a shelter!

This much is clear: when it comes to examining the way DV impacts our workplaces – critical resources need to be both identified and developed. The support provided in our workplaces via coworkers and employers – can play an integral role in how things play out. Preliminary discussions and interviews have made us even more determined to angle in on key demographics that have, to date, been sidelined out of community discussions. Needless to say – our list of questions is growing daily.

After the editing was completed, the survey was quickly sent back into supportive hands at the Centre for Research and Education Woman and Children (CREWAC) at UWO. We were all so excited to see the online survey activated and so grateful for the ongoing support from CREWAC. Special thanks is owed to the CLC, who shared outreach ideas, press kits and resources and especially to Robyn Pike here at the St. John’s Status of Women Council, who brought the local campaign to life with some expertly crafted posters and press releases.

We are excited to report that on this front – there is still more to come; the survey outreach-team is not finished yet! The more surveys we manage to have filled out over the next few months – the more accurate our data will be here in Newfoundland and Labrador – and the better resources will be able to both identify and build. If you have already filled out the survey yourself – you can help the team enormously by sharing the link with family and friends and co-workers. The survey link will be active until January 2019 – but don’t wait until then! https://sjwomenscentre.ca/dvatworknl/




What we do know is that Newfoundland and Labrador has among the highest levels of Domestic Violence (DV) in Canada.  What we don’t know is the impact of that violence on workplaces in our province.

To understand more, the St. John’s Status of Women Council has partnered with the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children at the University of Western Ontario to launch a critically important survey on the impact of DV on workers and workplaces in Newfoundland and Labrador.

To ensure that our provincial economy can prosper, safe workplaces are essential. Domestic Violence costs the Canadian economy a staggering $7.4 billion annually. The good news is that Canadian and international research has shown that positive change can happen when the right types of policies, training and other supports are put in place.


Domestic Violence in our communities and workplaces is both a social and economic challenge for all of us. In just 30 minutes, by completing this survey, you can contribute to creating workplace practices that help support victims of DV and their co-workers.


The survey is anonymous, and participation is voluntary. All workers in Newfoundland and Labrador over the age of 15 are invited to fill it out.

We are working hard to ensure participation from all regions of Newfoundland and Labrador, all genders, Indigenous people, and people with different perspectives and experiences. Your voice is important, whether or not you have personally experienced or witnessed violence.

In appreciation of your time spent completing the survey, you have the option to enter to win one of three $250 prepaid VISA cards.


  1. Fill out the survey at: https://sjwomenscentre.ca/dvatworknl/
  2. Talk to your co-workers, friends and family and encourage them to take part. Share the link on social media and invite everyone in your workplace to take the survey.


  • A Justice Canada study estimated that businesses lose approximately $78 million annually due to DV, but the real costs are much higher.
  • Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Indigenous women are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women.
  • In any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe at home.


The nationwide survey launched by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the University of Western Ontario in 2014 provided solid data to help us understand national DV trends. This information illustrated that DV is a systemic barrier to women’s economic security. This has severe implications for our province’s labour force and presents a tremendous cost to our economy.

The CLC’s initiative was inspired by ground breaking surveys used to gather data in Australia. The Australian findings identified the prevalence and impact of DV on the workplace and resulted in vital new legislation. It mandated domestic/family violence workplace benefits, including dedicated paid leave and flexible work arrangements.

A growing number of provinces in Canada are implementing DV Leave legislation and policies to make workplaces safer. New Brunswick has most recently implemented DV Leave.


  • Over 80 per cent of survivors reported that DV negatively affected their working lives.
  • Over half (53.5%) of those reporting DV experiences indicated that at least one type of abusive act occurred at or near the workplace. Of these, the most common were abusive phone calls or text messages (40.6%) and stalking or harassment near the workplace.
  • 53 per cent of survivors felt their job performance was negatively impacted.
  • 75 per cent had difficulty concentrating on their work.
  • 19 per cent reported causing or nearly causing workplace accidents due to their violent relationship.
  • 40 per cent of those who reported experiencing Domestic Violence, said DV made it difficult for them to get to work.





  • Stanford, Jim (2016), “Economic Aspects of Pail Domestic Leave Provisions,” Briefing Paper – Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute.
  • Fonseca, Peter (2009), “Bill 168, Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace and Other Maters),” Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
  • Lewin, Brent (2012), “Justice Canada study says spousal abuse costs country at least 7.4 billion a year,” National Post.
  • Martin-Misener, R., & Valaitis, R. (2009). “A scoping literature review of collaboration between primary care and public health,” McMaster University
  • Mojtehedzadeh, Sara (2014), “Domestic violence follows victims to work, survey finds,” Toronto Star.
  • Wathen, C.N., MacGregor, J.C.D., MacQuarrie, B.J. with the Canadian Labour Congress. (2014). Can Work be Safe, When Home Isn’t? Initial Findings of a Pan-Canadian Survey on Domestic Violence  and the Workplace. London, ON: Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children.
  • The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba (2016), “ The Employment Standards Code Injury or Illness and Extension of Compassionate Care Leave.)”
  • Statistics Canada (2017), “Labour Force Characteristics Newfoundland and Labrador,” Labour Force Survey




“They feel heard. They feel relief. They feel hope.”

As a counsellor, it is staggering sometimes to see the “before and after” of a counselling session. Many women have shared with us that it’s difficult to get in the door but once they do it is unlike any other counselling experience they have had. They feel heard. They feel relief. They feel hope. But what are women saying about getting in the door?

Working up the courage to walk in the door can take weeks. even months. Why is that? Sometimes it seems daunting to reach out and accept help. The process is unknown as well as the location and that can be intimidating. Some women have had other therapeutic experiences that have been negative.  Women also have said that “other people” need the service more than they do and it’s free – so that’s too good to be true.

Counselling can be a vulnerable experience but it can also be empowering. It is meant as a time for you to explore ideas and practices that will support your struggles and concerns. The process is about hearing and supporting you and making a plan, not judging you or fixing you. You deserve service that works for your life. Women are the backbone of families and when we are mentally healthy our relationships are better. Drop in counselling is first and foremost a service to support women wherever they are in their lives.

So what is drop in counselling? Well, you can just drop in. You don’t need an appointment. You don’t need a referral. The most a woman has ever waited to date is an hour. Yeah, it might sound too good to be true but every Tuesday and Wednesday (12-5) you can drop by the Women’s Centre and we will be here to meet you with no strings attached. If you want to come back, we welcome you. If one session is enough, that’s your choice. We have built a program to serve women in whatever way they need it. So come on by!

Dana Warren, BSW, RSW

Women’s Centre is offering a new parenting group for survivors of DV

We are so pleased to announce that we have begun a new therapeutic group for women at The St. John’s Women’s Centre.

Helping Children Thrive supports mothers leaving domestic violence become stronger and more effective parents.  This 12 week skill based group  helps mothers understand how domestic violence has undermined their parenting and offers alternatives skills and strategies in a safe and supportive environment. Through strengthening the skill set of mothers after abuse we hope to strengthen families and stop the cycle of intergenerational violence.

Helping Children Thrive is based on the work  of Linda Cunningham  from the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System – Helping Children Thrive: Supporting Woman Abuse Survivors as Mothers.

The group is free and open to all women in the community. Childcare and transportation stipends are  available. For more information please contact Sheila at The Women’s Centre 709-753-0220 or email Sheila@sjwomenscentre.ca