Employers looking for assistance implementing the province’s new regulations on workplace violence and harassment prevention are invited to intend a conference being organized by the Rainy River District Women’s Shelter of Hope on Sept. 16.
With a series of presentations lined up from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Adventure Inn, the idea behind the conference is “how it is going to take the entire community working together to end woman abuse,” explained Donna Kroocmo, executive director with the shelter.
This includes helping employers implement changes in Occupational Health and Safety due to Bill 168—which requires employers to have a workplace violence and harassment policy in place, and places a burden on employers to take action against domestic violence.
“The one hour workshop can be taken and brought into the workplace,” said Kroocmo about the information the shelter will be providing for employers.
Bill 168 in part stems from the 2005 murder of Lori Dupont—a nurse who was stabbed to death in a Windsor hospital by her physician ex-boyfriend, noted Kroocmo. This happened despite the hospital management receiving complaints about harassment.
“So now [the province is] putting the onus on employers to take action, and I personally applaud it,” said Kroocmo. “I think it’s a wonderful idea. The government absolutely doing the right thing—but you can say that, but how do you implement it?”
“And we’re going to giving [employers] a lot of resource material, risk assessment [and] safety plans that they can have at their disposal to address that issue.”
Trudy McCormick with the Northwest Community Legal Clinic will be there to answer possible legal questions, as well as Mark Bruyere with Treaty #3 Police to talk about managing a workplace if both a victim and abuser are employed there.
This presentation will also go through the “Neighbours, Friends and Family” program which aims to teach not just employers, but members of the public how to recognize and stop abuse.
For those not attending the full-day conference, an evening presentation on the “Neighbours, Friends and Families” program will also be open to the public at 6:30 p.m. While similar to the earlier presentation, it will focus less on Bill 168.
“We’re going to be teaching members of the public how to recognize the signs of woman abuse,” said Kroocmo. “If you suspect your sister or your friend or your neighbour is being abused, how to approach her what you can do.”
“What we’re saying is that, it’s no longer a personal matter. It’s a societal issue, and you need to take action. We’re encouraging everyone to get involved,” she said.
This includes giving people resources they can pass along to a woman if they suspect she is being abused.
“We’re just encouraging everyone to come out, bring their neighbours, friends and family members—because usually everybody knows someone who is at risk or being abused and they can use this information,” said Kroocmo, noting that prior registration is not needed for the evening session.
As well, there will be a cash incentive of $20 for those attending the evening meeting, if they fill out an online survey for a study underway at the University of Western Ontario on the program.
Alongside Bill 168, the conference will also touch on the services which are available at the new outreach office that has been opened in Fort Frances.
A presentation on the “Caring Dads Program,”—a voluntary program for men who have abused their partners and want to learn how to become a better father, and the effect that their abuse has on their children—is also slated.
Speaking about this program will be Debbie Zweep from the Faye Peterson Transition House in Thunder Bay, and Tim Kelly, with Changing Ways in London, Ontario.
“We’re bringing [the program] forward, we’re letting the agencies that are invited to this know that the programs out there, that there’s funding for it,” noted Kroocmo.
“Hopefully somebody will take it on and run with it. It’s an excellent program,” she said, adding that it is an “awesome compliment” to the already established “Child Witness Program” which will also be highlighted at the conference.
Also on the schedule for the day is a presentation on the recently launched provincial website to help various agencies—such as those dealing with mental health, trauma, addiction and sexual assault—screen their clients for woman abuse.
An update on the amalgamation between Family and Children’s Services in the Rainy River District with Kenora-Patrica Family Services will also occur, as well as the showing of the two videos “Not a Loliday” and “Faces of Violence.”
Registration for the day is $25 per person with lunch and refreshments included. The fee will be waived for individuals or agencies who cannot afford it.
Those interested in attending for the day are asked to RSVP by phoning 1-807-597-2868 ext. 26, or faxing 1-807-597-6910 preferably before Sept. 10.