Saskatchewan will be introducing Clare’s Law to allow people to go to the police to find out if a current partner has a history of domestic violence.
This is one of the recommendations contained in a report from Saskatchewan’s Domestic Violence Death Review Panel.
Started in the summer of 2016, the panel looked in-depth at six specific murder cases related to domestic violence. It was done because the province has the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada. The report also recommended that all deaths related to domestic violence may be subject to a review.
“I thank the members of the Domestic Violence Death Review Panel for their hard work over the last two years,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said. “Their findings will now serve as the cornerstone of our efforts to reduce domestic violence in Saskatchewan.”
The final report contains 19 recommendations, which will be used to guide specific key actions and ongoing consultation on the issue of domestic violence.
But there are some first steps being taken immediately in response to the report.
- A Domestic Violence Disclosure process, or Clare’s law as it is known, will allow for people to learn through police whether their partner has been violent in previous relationships.
- Additional funds will be provided to expand Kids on the Block/Kids Matter programs in northern Saskatchewan. The programs are delivered by community partners who provide educational programming to school-aged children on family and domestic violence issues.
- Funding will be made available for additional crisis workers; one in northern Saskatchewan and one in the rural south. Additional crisis workers will help meet the increasing demands for sexual assault services.
- The Children Exposed to Violence program will be expanded. It provides children who have been exposed to domestic violence with supports designed to reduce their risk of becoming a victim or offender.
“We look at what’s taken place in other jurisdictions, the work that is being done in other jurisdictions is similar to what is recommended here and my hope is that it will bring domestic violence rates down,” Morgan said.
The government says in addition to these short-term responses, the results of the Domestic Violence Death Review Panel’s work will be used to inform ongoing consultations on a provincial domestic violence plan.
In 2018-19, approximately $19.5 million will be provided to community-based organizations across Saskatchewan to deliver violence support services and prevention programming.
The report provided detailed information about homicides in Saskatchewan between 2005 and 2014.
During that time, of the 48 domestic homicides, nine were related to suicide. The majority of the victims were women, with most perpetrators being male. One third of the victims were under the age of 21, nearly two thirds of the victims were attacked in their own home.
Aboriginal people made up 27 of the 48 domestic homicide victims.
Common themes among the cases emerged including mental health and substance abuse issues, history of violence, financial issues, lack of education on prevention and intervention and the impact of colonization and residential schools.
NDP believe it’s a long time coming
The NDP’s Nicole Sarauer said she’s happy to see the recommendations, calling them a long time coming, but thinks more needs to be done right away.
She said not enough is happening immediately considering the problem of having high rates of domestic violence has been known for a while. Sarauer said there has been a flat lining of funding to crisis shelters with wait lists that she called unreal.
“That’s devastating for people because if they can’t access a shelter then they may not be able to leave a violent home situation,” said the Regina Douglas Park MLA.
She also said an expansion of programming is needed for both victims and perpetrators, specifically, at a bare minimum, for those in jails.
Sarauer said the province needs to start attaching dollar figures to the recommendations.