Final Report of the Ad Hoc Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group Reviewing Spousal Abuse Policies and Legislation



At their September 2000 meeting, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for justice identified the need to strengthen the criminal justice system’s response to incidents of spousal/partner abuse. It was agreed that an ad hoc, federal, provincial and territorial working group would be formed to review the implementation and status of mandatory charging and prosecutorial policies related to spousal or partner abuse and that it would report back to Ministers on the results in one year. Ministers also requested that officials review legislative proposals made by several jurisdictions, including penalties for breach of restraining orders and reforms to bail provisions and reverse onus in bail hearings.

At the October 2000 meeting of the FPT Co-ordinating Committee of Senior Officials (Criminal Justice) (CCSO), it was agreed that Ad Hoc Working Group should review the legislative proposals.

The Working Group was struck to review the 1983 spousal abuse charging and prosecutorial policies issued by the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General through the years at the federal level, as well as similar policies issued by provincial and territorial justice ministries.

The Working Group was also asked to report on the following:

To review related legislative proposals to amend the Criminal Code, including penalties for breach of restraining orders, and reforms to bail provisions and reverse onus in bail hearings.

To report findings and recommendations to the FPT Ministers responsible for Justice within one year.

The Ad Hoc Working Group will undertake its tasks in consultation with FPT working groups with related areas of expertise, including those working on criminal procedure, victims, diversity, equality and justice. The final report of the Ad Hoc Working Group will be submitted to FPT Ministers via CCSO and the FPT Deputy Ministers responsible for Justice.


Government of Canada

News Release

December 21, 1983  


OTTAWA, December 21, 1983 -- Justice Minister Mark MacGuigan and Solicitor General Bob Kaplan today announced that policy directives have been issued to instruct the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Crown Attorneys investigating and prosecuting spousal assault cases in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Spousal assault is a serious problem in Canada. According to the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women Report on Wife Battering, one in ten Canadian women is beaten by her husband or partner, and about 20 per cent of all murder victims are women killed by their husbands.

While any type of assault is an offence under the Criminal Code, the Criminal Justice System, including some law enforcement officers and prosecutors, generally has perceived domestic violence as a family problem rather than a crime. As a result, many complaints of spousal assault have not been adequately investigated and prosecuted where reasonable evidence was established.

“These directives are meant to ensure that in the territories, spousal assaults are treated as any other crime of violence”, said Dr. MacGuigan. “Women must be given the full protection of the law if we are to stop this violence in Canadian homes,” he added.

Mr. Kaplan said, “These directives, which apply exclusively to the territories, reflect the general law enforcement policy of the RCMP governing spousal assault. This policy has been established in response to public concern over the victimization of women and involves specialized RCMP training on the laying of charges in cases of spousal assault. I look forward to the adoption of this approach by other jurisdictions in Canada”.

The directives require that complaints of spousal assault be investigated immediately and thoroughly by a police officer. If there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe an assault has occurred, the investigating officer should lay criminal charges. Similarly, when charges have been laid, the Crown Attorney will proceed with the case in all but the most exceptional circumstances. One important effect of these provisions is that they remove the responsibility and blame for pressing charges from women, who often fear retaliation.

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Ref.: Bill Corbett (version française disponible)
(613) 593-4972  



It is the purpose of this directive to require the full investigation, for prosecution, of cases involving spousal assault and measures for the protection of and assistance to victims. The objective is to take decisions involving prosecution out of the hands of the victim.



4. Where investigation supports the conclusion that a spousal assault has been committed, charges should be laid by the investigating officer, the victim served with a subpoena for the earliest possible trial date, a complete brief supplied to the Crown Attorney and a case set to the earliest convenient court docket for appearance. This directive should be considered mandatory and completed irrespective of the wishes of the victim.



7. The use of the peace bond procedure set out in section 745 and 746 of the Criminal Code should not be pursued as an alternative or recommended in cases of spousal assault.


It is the purpose of this directive to require the prosecution of spousal assault cases where there is sufficient evidence, and to provide support to the victim throughout the court process.


1. Where a prosecution brief is received involving a case of spousal assault, the prosecutor should review the brief for completeness, see that the charge has been sworn by the investigating officer, and meet with the officer to determine the conditions for bail that will give maximum protection to the victim. He should see that the case is proceeded with in court without undue delay. At the bail hearing, he should press the court for terms that will protect the victim and oppose bail where the circumstances of the case require it.


2. When a prosecution brief has been reviewed with the investigating officer, the prosecutor shall meet with the victim to determine her reliability as a witness, explain the prosecution policy, explain what is expected of a witness in court, and encourage the victim to testify on behalf of the Crown. He should also satisfy himself that the victim has been in touch with available community services and is aware of the release conditions if any.


3. After reviewing the complete prosecution brief with the investigating officer and interviewing the victim, the prosecutor may form the view that the case is not appropriate for prosecution and stay or withdraw the charges. Such a decision shall not be made without prior discussion with the Regional Director and one of the General Counsel, Criminal Prosecution Section or the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (Criminal Law) in Ottawa. Such a decision should consider any history of prior assault, the safety of the victim and other family members, and any threats of intimidation. The termination of a case short of court prosecution should be considered only in the exceptional case and will be made on behalf of the Crown and not by the victim.


4. Where prosecution results in conviction, the prosecutor shall recommend the sentence which in his view would be appropriate were it not a case of spousal assault. Where an adequate sentence is not obtained, an appeal of sentence will be pursued. The prosecutor in speaking to sentence, shall treat the spousal assault case in the same way as he would treat any other assault on a victim who cannot protect his or herself.  


5. An annual report summarizing the cases of spousal assault prosecuted and the results will be prepared at the direction of the Regional Director and sent to the General Counsel, Criminal Prosecution Section, on the anniversary of the implementation of this policy.


1. Training
  • A Violence Awareness Training Program has been piloted with staff in four key departments and community agencies, using a train-the-trainer model.

  • Regional training co-ordinating committees are being established to organize and deliver ongoing sessions.

  • Across the province, 116 facilitators have been trained.

  • A facilitator’s manual, participants’ manual and PowerPoint presentations have been developed and printed.

  • Training has been conducted with implementation of the Victims of Family Violence Act (1996) (train-the-trainer programs, with police, Victims’ Services and Transition House team).

  • As a result of the Evaluation of the act, Victim Services has developed a new presentation for training police on the Act.

  • The family violence co-ordinator teaches a core course at the police academy for new recruits, including 12 hours on domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sexual assault.

  • Once a year, training is offered for new police officers and veterans. This is done by a team of Crown Prosecutors, Victim Services staff, the family violence co-ordinator and the deputy court registrar. Sessions for specially designated justices of the peace are held approximately once a year; information sessions for other professionals are held as requested.

  • Training on new woman abuse protocols and policies is ongoing.

  • Mandatory training is provided to all justice workers in conjunction with the implementation of the Framework for Action Against Family Violence in 1996‑97. A training program for all justice workers is to be delivered in 2002‑03, in anticipation of implementation of the Domestic Violence Intervention Act.

  • In response to the Russell Report, the Justice Learning Centre was established (a partnership between the Department of Justice and Nova Scotia Community College) to provide justice-related training, including family violence training.

2. Co-ordinating Mechanisms
  • Violence Prevention Initiative

  • Committee of Ministers.

  • Provincial Co-ordinating Committee.

  • Six regional committees with government-community partnership.

  • Family Violence Protocols provide for co-ordination among Victim Services, Probation and Correctional Centres.

  • Provincial Strategic Social Plan and Justice Strategic Plan both require co-ordination as an underlying principle for future programs and policies.

  • Violence Liaison Officer - Program in correctional centres provides co-ordinated information access to victims.

  • Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence just extended for another five years.

  • Five interagency committees composed of multiple service providers, in five regions co-ordinate services locally; outreach workers are employed in four regions through the Transition House Association.

  • Family Violence Prevention Initiative (government-community committee) disbanded in 2000 inter-departmental committee of five departments chaired by Department of Community Services.

  • Some departments retained family violence committees (including Justice).

  • Some communities kept Interagency Committees on Family Violence (originally 17) to co-ordinate services, public education.

  • Deputy Ministers’ Leadership Committee on Family Violence established 2002.

  • Established province-wide police Domestic Violence Case Co-ordination Program to enhance police capacity in co-ordinated case management (identifying high risk situations, information-sharing and referrals).

3. Support Services
3.1 Victim Services
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. has priority policy for family violence victims.

  • Department of Justice program.

  • System-based.

  • Professional staff in the 10 regional offices and 1 provincial office.

  • Services available include information, court preparation, counselling, referrals, follow-up, Victim Impact Statement Program, Victims’ Legal Fund Program and Professional Services Counselling Program.

  • Services available to those 16 and older.

Victim Services, Office of the Attorney General, operates throughout the province and provides assistance at all stages of the criminal justice process. Services include information and referral, short-term counselling, Victim Impact Statement (VIS), compensation, court preparation and support, assistance under the Victims of Family Violence Act.

  • Department of Justice Victims’ Services Division.

  • RCMP volunteers.

  • Halifax Regional Police Victim Services (follow-up calls next day or within 24 hours after police called to domestic dispute); Bridgewater Police (victim service component); Cape Breton Regional Police (Family Violence Crisis Response Team).

3.2 Shelters
  • Eight transition houses.

  • Eight women’s centres.

  • One sexual assault centre (province-wide service).

  • One provincial association against family violence (umbrella organization for shelters).

  • One transition house.

  • Four staff members providing outreach services in five regions.

  • Three second-stage housing units (self-contained apartment units; services through outreach worker).

  • Nine transition houses.

  • One Mi’kmaq Family Treatment Centre (two sites).

  • Five second-stage housing facilities.

  • Six women’s centres.

  • Two counselling programs for abused women.

  • Two sexual assault centres.

3.3 Programs for Children Exposed to Family Violence

Counselling through Health and Community Services.


No formal programs, except as provided by transition houses on a limited basis, Kentville Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) program.

3.4 Abusive Partner Programs
  • Treatment in facilities:

  • Level I Education group run three times a year in St. John’s, 8‑10 offenders per session, 10‑12 sessions of 2‑2.5 hours, most are incarcerated but do accept offenders on probation, most take it on recommendation of court as part of prison term or at discretion of officer supervising case; also periodically offered in other institutions.

  • Level II - more personalized treatment, targeting offenders who have completed Level I or comparable in community, only offered in 1 institution in the province.

  • Treatment in community contract with John Howard through Learning Resource Program, a low intensity program for probation or conditional sentence offenders under supervision, mandated, 2 sites with other sessions periodically offered by probation.

  • Psychiatric hospital for mental health (non-justice) clients.

  • One Corrections-based program provided across province as required (Office of Attorney General, Community Justice Resource Centre, Turning Point program).

  • Most court-ordered but voluntary too.

  • Community-based programs funded by Department of Community Services.

  • One Mi’kmaq Family Treatment Centre (not funded).

  • Two probation-based groups.

4. New Initiatives (non-justice)
  • Crown is launching a pilot to fast-track family violence cases through the court system in Central Newfoundland

  • Department of Human Resources and Employment is adopting all recommendations of its government-community committee, which has analysed the Department’s response to victims of violence.

  • Five-year Strategy Against Violence ended March 2000; new five-year Violence Prevention Initiative implemented; aim is improved integration of violence prevention in departments and improved co-ordination regionally with community participation.

  • Anti-Violence Policy Framework developed for use in four key departments.

  • Public education (school survey and violence prevention materials and modules; brochures on assault).

  • 1. Five-year Family Violence Strategy and Premier’s Committee renewed.

  • 2. Public awareness / social marketing strategy developed:

    • Phase 1 - survey of Islanders attitudes toward violence / abuse.

    • Phase 2 - targets professionals people said they would turn to for help; focus groups to assess attitudes and identify their needs.

  • 3. Training for professionals as protocols developed.

  • 4. Projects - as above.

  • 5. Workplace Violence.

  • 6. Policy / protocol development.

  • 7. Physician training in family violence and pre-natal psycho-social assessment tool.

Domestic Violence Intervention Act passed November 2001—not yet proclaimed—provides for emergency protection orders.

5. Reports
  • Women’s Policy Office has just released its Provincial Survey on Attitudes toward Violence (March 2002).

  • Five-Year Strategy Against Violence Report.

  • Peace Bond Study.

  • “Moving Forward: Responding to the Needs of Violence,” Department. of Human Resources and Employment.

  • Monitoring Study of Victims of Family Violence Act from 1998; Evaluation of Act (August 2001).

  • Family Violence and Justice System Response Report (March 2000).

  • Literature review.

  • Evaluation of Transition House and sexual assault centres.

  • Police Response and Children Exposed to Domestic Violence report.

  • Psychosocial Assessment Tool for Physicians.

  • Restorative Justice and Women Who Are Victims of Violence (June 2002).

Russell Report (Framework Review) (2001); Maxwell-George Inquiry (Department of Justice) and Case Review (Department of Community Services) (2000); Framework Evaluation (Report and Appendices, 1997); Victim Support Services Evaluations (2); Family Violence Tracking Project (1995); Law Reform Commission Report (1995); Domestic Homicide Review (1995).

6. Data Collection
  • Over sample requested with 1999 GSS.

  • Victim Services statistics.

  • Police and court date.

  • Repeat Public Attitude Survey in five years.

  • Data collected on Victims of Family Violence Act.

  • No police tracking data.

  • Some court data.

  • Victim Services statistical reports.

  • Internal police audit.

  • Some court and corrections data on JOIS; periodic review - no ongoing individual case tracking or annual reporting.

  • Data collection system planned to track emergency intervention orders (DVIA).

1. Training
  • Training is provided for police at Saskatchewan Police College and RCMP depot / F Division. This includes presentations on the dynamics of family violence and the applicability of provincial and federal legislation when responding to family violence situations.

  • In 1995 initial information and training on the Victims of Domestic Violence Act (1995) and family violence was provided to police, courts, Justices of the Peace, victim services co-ordinators and representatives of community organizations working in the area of family violence.

  • In 2001–02 training on how the justice system responds to family violence was delivered across the province to police, funded agency staff and related community organizations that work in the area of family violence [31 multi-disciplinary sessions in 20 communities (April 2002)]. Some individuals who attended the sessions will be identified as future trainers and will receive additional information and practice.

  • A module on family violence included in the Victim Services Volunteer Training Manual is used by police-affiliated victim services co-ordinators for training program volunteer support workers.

  • Protection Against Family Violence Act (1999)

  • Office for the Prevention of Family Violence (OPFV) offers training

  • day education on family violence and the Act, community planning to mobilize partnerships.

  • Police: train-the-trainer approach used initially prior to proclamation of Act, trainer identified from every police agency (RCMP, Municipal, First Nations), three days of training offered by team of OPFV, Policing Services, Crown; training video and manual given to every officer / trainer; centralized training followed-up by holding annual community level training co-ordinated by Justice and Children’s Services.

  • Family Violence Training
  • Annual training at Justice College offered by Alberta Justice which includes Crown, police, corrections, and provincial Victims Services Association.

  • Extensive training conducted with introduction of Violence Against Women in Relationships (VAWIR) policy in co-ordination with police, Crown and victim services (VS) workers.

  • RCMP now training every officer in relationship violence and criminal harassment policy.

  • Training program available for Crown Counsel.

  • Training on advanced interviewing and investigation skills available for police, Crown and victim service workers.

  • Criminal harassment training available for all justice system personnel.

  • Safety planning and use of cell phone technology training available for police and victim services workers.

  • Developing a new training program for risk assessment for victim safety for police and victim service workers.

  • All Crown support staff is trained in Victims of Crime Act procedures.

  • Training for first-line responders.

2. Co-ordinating
  • The Inter-departmental Committee on Family Violence consists of representatives from eight government departments. The committee facilitates an integrated government response to the issue of family violence.

  • Saskatchewan Towards Offering Partnership Solutions to Violence Inc. (STOPS to Violence) is a partnership of community organizations, individuals and provincial government departments that works towards the elimination of relationship violence and supports the development of partnerships at community level. Local partnership committees exist in eight communities. STOPS to Violence meets regularly with the Inter-departmental Committee on Family Violence.

  • The Department of Justice Internal Committee on Family Violence has representatives from the Law Enforcement Services, Courts, Prosecutions, Victim Services, Community Services and Policy, Planning and Evaluation branches. It meets regularly to discuss justice issues in the area of family violence.

Inter-departmental Committee on Family Violence.

  • Local interagency committees.

  • Regional authorities responsible for funding decisions and range of regional services.

  • Within Justice, co-ordinating committees for Crowns and police.

  • There are 50 community co-ordination committees, which are not funded.

  • A community co-ordination handbook is available.

3. Support Services
3.1 Victim Services
  • There are 17 police-affiliated victim services programs (RCMP / municipal police services) to respond to victims of crime and traumatic events. Each program has one co-ordinator and a number of volunteer support workers.

  • Eight Aboriginal resource officers are located in five police-affiliated victim services programs. They respond to the needs of Aboriginal victims.

  • Three urban centres have Victim / Witness Co-ordinators who work closely with courts.

  • Six sexual assault centres and eight family violence outreach programs are funded through Saskatchewan Social Services.

  • Eight Aboriginal Family Violence Programs, funded through Saskatchewan Justice, offer holistic programs that serve victims, offenders and their families according to community need. The programs are offered by community-based organizations that employ Aboriginal service providers.

Most are police-based, co-ordinated within Department of Justice by Victim Services Program.

Victims Service Division funds:

  • 91 police-based Victim Service agencies serving 113 police jurisdictions by end of fiscal year

  • There will be 62 community based victim services programs including programs for male survivors and Aboriginal victims by end of fiscal. These programs will also provide services for sex assault victims.

  • All co-ordinated locally by protocols.

3.2 Shelters

There are 13 shelters (10 funded by Saskatchewan Social Services) and 2 second-stage housing facilities offering services to women and children.

27 shelters and rural family violence prevention centres and 2 second-stage housing projects.

  • 86 transition houses; 16 safe home programs; nine second-stage housing programs.

  • 37 women centres (funding ceases March 31, 2004).

3.3 Programs for Children Exposed to Family Violence
  • Four Children Who Witness Violence programs are funded by Saskatchewan Justice in three urban centres. Each program offers parenting groups.

  • Health districts determine what services they offer to children exposed to family violence and often have limited mental health resources available.

  • Examples of other programs offered by community-based organizations and not funded by government include a children’s group run by a shelter and a violence intervention program in schools.

  • With the Calgary Domestic Violence Court only, funding made available for children witnessing violence.

  • Group and individual counselling for children and youth exposed to family violence; for those who are abusive or aggressive at home or school; for parents.

  • Crisis nursery and emergency respite (for children up to 8 years old).

55 programs for individual and group counselling for children exposed to domestic violence; support to parents.

3.4 Abusive Partner Programs
  • Ten Alternatives to Violence Programs for Abusive Men, funded by Saskatchewan Health, offer two phases of programming sixteen weeks in duration. Most groups are co-facilitated by mental health and justice workers. There is a high drop out rate initially. Of the participants approximately 50% are court-ordered and 50% are Aboriginal. Aboriginal facilitators are used when appropriate.

  • Saskatchewan Corrections and Public Safety offers three Alternatives to Violence Programs.

  • 15 to 20 programs not currently funded.

  • Proposal in to fund treatment programs under province-wide Treatment Framework, which will define criteria and standards, have evaluation component, three-year phase-in.

  • Corrections staff will deliver “psycho-educational” programs on Respectful Relationships; this will be available to spousal abuse offenders throughout the province.

  • Contracted programs will provide treatment and therapeutic programs in most centres throughout the province to offenders.

4. New Initiatives (non-justice)

STOPS to Violence is developing a protocol template for the use of communities that want to implement an integrated community approach to dealing with incidents of violence in the family.

  • Treatment for Abusive Men Framework.

  • Elder Abuse Action Plan under development.

  • Social Marketing currently running 13th Family Violence Prevention Month campaign.

  • Cross-ministry Seniors Initiative with 10-year plan to be developed.

5. Reports
  • Two evaluation reports on the Victims of Domestic Violence Act from 1996 and 1998 are available.

  • A study is underway at two sites to track incidents of spousal violence from police report through the court system, including interviews with police, prosecutors, victim services co-ordinators and victims of spousal violence.

  • Evaluation of the Protection Against Family Violence Act.

  • Alberta Justice Spousal Abuse Status Report.

6. Data Collection
  • The lack of technology at the Court of Queen’s Bench presents challenges when conducting research on the use of orders such as emergency intervention orders under the Victims of Domestic Violence Act.

  • The identification of family violence incidents at police level is inconsistent among municipal police services and RCMP.

  • Court data on of the Protection Against Family Violence Act.

  • Policing data supplied quarterly to Justice on incidents responded to and action taken.

  • Women’s Shelter Information System–re-design planned.

  • Police, court, corrections all maintain statistics on spousal assault cases.

  • Monitoring conducted by Director, Legal Operations and Justice Programs, with recommendations to Prosecutions Branch and Regional Management committees; local co-ordination committees identify issues to Crown member.

1. Training
  • Pre-service training for police in domestic violence is provided by the provincial police college.

  • There is a two-day training program on the dynamics of spousal violence for corrections officials.

  • A training course for prosecutors is held every 18 months.

  • Training done within two weeks of the introduction of the new sexual assault policy (second edition) which will have a domestic violence component.

  • Joint training is provided for police, Crown Prosecutors and child protection staff in child sexual abuse, based on a multi-sectoral agreement.

  • Local committees provide training opportunities.

  • Education for provincial judges on woman abuse.

  • Ongoing training to support provincial DVC program (now in 22 sites).

  • Training plan to be developed for the Domestic Violence Protection Act.

  • Setting up training program as part of new domestic violence strategy for police, Crown Prosecutors, Victim / Witness Assistance Program (VWAP), cultural interpreters, probation officers.

  • Two annual conferences for Crowns with domestic violence component, specialized one-week course in summer mandatory for all new Crowns or Crowns looking to be domestic violence specialists

  • VWAP annual training for Crown Prosecutors (two days) introductory domestic violence training for all newly hired Crowns.

  • Bail Advocacy Training Program for Crowns (Fall 2002).

  • Ontario Police College Domestic Violence training for specialized investigators (Ministry certified) including use of Domestic Violence Supplementary Report Form.

  • Training to be provided to 160 new probation staff to be hired.

  • Extensive training conducted for the Domestic Violence and Stalking Prevention, Protection and Compensation Act.

  • Currently mandatory one-day training for all Winnipeg police officers in family violence underway; 60 officers / session and recruit training.

  • Regular training for Crown Prosecutors.

  • Regular training for RCMP.

2. Co-ordinating
  • The Inter-ministerial Co-ordinating Committee on spousal, family and sexual violence.

  • Local Co-ordinating Committees to co-ordinate services and initiatives locally (protocols to co-ordinate the action of local committees).

  • Follow-up on policy undertaken by the Inter-ministerial Committee.

  • Local co-ordinating roundtables.

  • Two inter-ministerial committees at the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) and policy / program level co-ordinate and implement the Domestic Violence Justice Strategy (exclusive Domestic Violence focus).

  • Creation of the Victim Services Division (Ministry of the Attorney General) within the Justice ministries to integrate and to co-ordinate the delivery of services to victims of crime.

  • Two inter-ministerial committees at the ADM and policy / program level co-ordinate violence against women prevention initiatives led by Ontario’s Women’s Directorate.

  • Joint Inter-ministerial Committee on Domestic Violence (short term) chaired by Justice Baldwin to develop a five-year implementation plan.

  • Local DART (Domestic Assault Review) Teams (case review of probation cases), Local Domestic Violence Co-ordinating Committees and Domestic Violence Court Advisory Committees (DVCAC).

    Community Co-ordinating Grants, providing provincial funding for local community co-ordinating mechanisms.

Inter-departmental Committee‑working group of officials.

3. Support Services
3.1 Victim Services
  • Department of Justice Victims’ Services (called “CAVAC”) in 11 sites around the province, support provided to go through the justice system.

  • Transition houses assist victims.

  • Transmission of specific information regarding offenders to spousal violence victims through correctional services.

  • Tracking method for identifying spousal violence cases, in order to identify and inform victims quickly, if need be.

  • Newly created and integrated Victim Services Division (Ministry of the Attorney General) for Justice ministries.

  • Victim Services Division Victim / Witness Assistance Program (now in 42 sites with plans to expand province wide to 54 sites).

  • VCARS (Victim Crisis Assistance and Response Service) in some sites, volunteer organization.

  • Police-based victim services, in some large communities.

  • Department of Justice offers full range of services for non-family violence victims; criminal injuries compensation for all victims.

  • See Women’s Advocacy Program.

  • Co-ordination of victim services under development.

3.2 Shelters

approximately 90 shelters / transition houses.

  • 99 shelters.

  • No safe homes.

  • Eight Aboriginal shelters.

  • There are approximately 100 counselling programs for abused women (individual and group).

  • There are approximately 119 transitional support workers throughout the province.

  • 10 shelters.

  • Eight women’s resource centres.

  • Four second-stage housing facilities

Urban Support Programs:

  • Immigrant women’s counselling service.

  • Community health clinic work with victims, children, and men who abuse.

  • Ma Ma Wi Chi Itata - multiple service centre, social service based, funds family violence counselling program.

  • Native Women’s Transition Centre: longer term residential support centre.

  • Laurel Centre: women with unhealthy coping behaviours and addictions as a result of child sexual abuse.

  • Community Health Centre: family violence counselling unit.

  • Three supervised access services for families with violence in background.

  • Private contract funding for people who work with abusive men outside Winnipeg.

  • Men’s Resource Centre: counselling for adult male sexual abuse survivors, information, referral.

  • Couples counselling (strict screening protocol, research component).

3.3 Programs for Children Exposed to Family Violence Child Welfare studying this issue to identify where children are involved in domestic violence cases; project involving Health Services and Justice in progress. Approximately 131 support groups within the Early Intervention Program for Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence, based on a concurrent group model with groups for children aged 4‑16 and separate groups for mothers on issues related to their children / parenting.
  • Short-term and longer term counselling programs for children.

  • Supervised access centres for families with exposure to domestic violence.

3.4 Abusive Partner Programs Some programs exist: GAPI Program, treatment ordered by the courts as a condition of probation.
  • Partner Assault Response (PAR) Programs are funded by Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) in 25 court jurisdictions (35 programs operating in total).

  • All programs include a partner outreach component; now Victim Services Division (MAG) funded.

  • Plans to roll out PAR Programs to all 54 court jurisdictions by March 2004.

  • Minimum 16-week group counselling.

  • Court mandated, no funded programs for voluntary participants but will accept on a fee for service basis.

  • One Partner Abuse Short Term (PAST) provincial program offered through seven probation offices and six institutions (12 two-hour modules offered in various configurations—days, evenings, weekends—contracted out, zero tolerance policy; breached if late for session).

  • One long-term program offered through Headingley (provincial corrections facility) Domestic Violence Unit specifically for domestic violence offenders.

  • Long-term program (a recommendation of Lavoie) pilot tested and plan to expand province-wide with resources.

4. New Initiatives (non-justice)
  • Confidentiality legislation sanctioned in spring 2001 to permit the exchange of information where there is violence or the threat of violence.

  • Public awareness campaign focused on one issue for three years including:

    1. spousal / dating violence.

    2. sexual assault

  • Correctional Services of Quebec (CSQ) offers an evaluation service in regards to judicial interim release of violent spouses.

  • CSQ intends to implement the Correctional Services of Quebec Act, which contains provisions related to spousal violence.

  • CSQ verifies the consistency of conditions placed on violent spouses at different stages in the judicial and correctional systems.

  • $5M in 2002 / 03 for the enhancement of safety, security and accessibility of violence against women shelters.

  • Early Intervention Program for Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence.

  • Transitional Support Worker Program.

  • Hospital-based Domestic Violence Pilot Program - in 10 sites, screening for domestic violence in hospitals / emergency rooms.

  • Community Report Card Pilot Project - four pilot sites.

  • Province-wide Assaulted Women’s Helpline and enhanced crisis line services for the Francophone community.

  • Joint Children’s Aid Society / Violence Against Women Model Collaboration Agreement and training.

  • Expanding aboriginal shelter.

  • Men’s Resource Centre.

  • Supervised access centres for families with abuse.

  • Benefit / pension plan for all funded staff.

  • Couples counselling.

  • Ongoing public awareness campaign (November is Family Violence Prevention Month).

5. Reports

Coroner’s inquest into a murder-suicide; Gaumont-Lirette findings led to new legislation permitting more liberal release of information to ensure professionals aware of a potentially lethal situation can share that information.

  • May–Iles murder–suicide inquest (213 recom-mendations).

  • Joint Committee on Domestic Violence / Justice Baldwin Report.

  • Metro Woman Abuse Council Toronto monitoring report of two specialized courts.

  • Moyer Report (evaluating six pilot DVC sites).

  • Hadley murder-suicide inquest.

  • Safety First Audit Pilot Project – Windsor, using tool to conduct audit on how well Justice and other agencies respond to domestic violence (three external agencies audit a fourth).

  • Lavoie inquiry

  • 911 inquiry (October 29, 2002).

  • Winnipeg Family Violence Court evaluation.

  • Police Tracking Study.

  • Evaluation of Partner Abuse Programs (due next year).

  • Pedlar Report (1991).

6. Data Collection
  • Extensive annual police report on conjugal violence (2000 most recent).

  • Justice system issues the number of cases but a number of accusations can involve one offender.

  • No family violence flag or ability to identify family violence cases except cases currently streamed into the specialized courts.

  • Data collection has been through periodic surveys of cases at domestic violence courts.

  • Integrated justice project still under development.

  • Beginning to collect court results.

  • Winnipeg Family Violence Court data.

  • Police data on calls for service and charges laid.

1. Training
  • Extensive training was provided over a two-year period, with the introduction of protocols. Protocols were launched at a one-day symposium, with one-day follow-up multi-disciplinary training on a regional basis and a second day for justice professionals only.

  • Protocols are to be revised by 2003, with training to follow.

  • The Government of New Brunswick is committed to revising the existing protocols (women abuse and child abuse protocols), as well as announcing a refreshed training strategy in 2003.

  • The province contracted with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research (MMFCFVR) to develop and deliver a woman abuse curriculum using a train-the-trainer approach. The centre currently offers a certificate program in family violence.

  • Chief Judge Territorial Court set up training for Justices of the Peace on the Family Violence Protection Act (1999).

  • Victims Services provides eight training sessions a year to police, Crown, community; ongoing.

2. Co-ordinating Mechanisms
  • Women’s Issues Branch created in Executive Council office.

  • Deputy Ministers Steering Committee on Violence Against Women; six inter-departmental project teams tasked with implementing government’s response to Minister’s Working Group on Violence Against Women.

  • Caring Partnerships initiative funded solely by Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation - to set up regional awareness, programs, services, and prevention committees in 12 locations.

  • Regional Children-at-risk-Teams (CART) have reps from agencies serving abused women under Department of Family and Community Services.


Coalition Against Family Violence - This is a coalition of government, RCMP and NGOs in Yellowknife.

3. Support Services
3.1 Victim Services  
  • Four police-based Victim Services.

  • RCMP Volunteers.

  • Department of Public Safety Victim Services located throughout province offer support, trauma, short term counselling, VIS, VIS Transportation program, counselling referrals, compensation for victims of crime.

  • Community agencies provide services and prevention programs aimed family violence: Beausejour Crisis Intervention Centre; Kent Co Family Violence Prevention Program; Restigouche Family Violence Intervenors Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre.

  • Family Violence Prevention Unit - including Department of Justice (federal) Victim Services / Women’s Program (six sites).

  • Long-term counselling, outreach, court support, crisis intervention, VIS, no criminal injuries compensation.

  • RCMP volunteer Victim Assistance Workers.

  • Counselling provided for victims and offenders of both sexual and spousal assault.

  • One Victim Co-ordinator in Department of Justice GNWT.

  • GNWT provides funding to community organizations in four communities to provide victim support, information and follow-up.

  • No criminal injuries compensation.

  • Victim / Witness Assistance staff operates out of Crown office in Yellowknife and Inuvik.

3.2 Shelters
  • 15 shelters.

  • One dedicated Aboriginal shelter.

  • Four transition houses.

  • One women’s centre.

  • Five shelters, limited number of safe homes and second-stage housing (women usually have to leave small communities to obtain service).

3.3 Programs for Children Exposed to Family Violence

Limited programming by some shelters.

Child Abuse Treatment Service (CATS) may support children exposed to family violence.

  • Counselling provided through Family Counselling Centres.

  • Group support and individual counselling provided to children and youth through the Women’s Healing and Recovery Program in Yellowknife. This program is provided by the YWCA and the Yellowknife Women’s Centre.

3.4 Abusive Partner Programs
  • In 1999‑2000, funded 49 partner abuse programs and 121 anger management programs in province, court-mandated under correctional supervision (probation or conditional sentences).

  • NB-Canada corrections pilot project; incarcerated provincial offenders provided federal programs.

  • One court-mandated assaultive husbands treatment program offered through Family Violence Prevention Unit (individual and group); outreach to rural areas.

  • Sex Offender Risk Management Program.

None, except as provided for individuals in correctional facilities.

4. New Initiatives (non justice)

See 2.0.

  • “It’s Up to Me” on healthy relationships course incorporated into Department of Education curriculum (optional).

  • Making Waves dating violence program for teens (weekend workshops with teens who then lead anti - dating violence activities in home high school). Both are community-based by CARR and Making Waves.

  • Community Caring Partnerships Committees led by Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation, public education and co-ordination.

  • YWCA and Yellowknife Women’s Centre.

  • Women’s and Children’s Healing and Recovery Program. Includes Assessment and Case Management, Spirit to Change (personal development, life skills, literacy and one-on-one counselling).

  • Trauma (therapy for women who are dealing with past traumatic issues), Child Recovery (group support and individual counselling for children and youth).

5. Reports
  • Minister’s Working Group on Violence Against Women: Strategic Framework (2001), A Better World for Women: Government Response to Minister’s Working Group on Violence Against Women (2001).

  • “Children Come First” Report followed Jacqueline Brewer’s death, government will use it as a guide, some recommendations already implemented.

  • Public Safety Department produces annual report on family violence assaults, homicides, sexual offences.

  • Child Death Review Committee Report.

Spousal Assault and Mandatory Charging in the Yukon study.

Coalition on Family Violence - Family Violence Research Report 2002 (December 2002).

6. Data Collection
  • Public Safety Department audits municipal police to ensure they have a policy; RCMP has national policy.

  • Woman abuse statistics system implemented (police and court aggregate data); victim-offender relationship variable in new court info system (NBJIS); victim services component of Client Information System went on-line April 1, 2002.

  • Shelter Program data collected.

  • Department of Justice, GNWT is working with the Crown and the RCMP to develop a family violence data collection system.

1. Training


  • RCMP provides all cadets training on spousal violence including police sensitivity to victims. RCMP provides members with a wide range of training, materials and activities related to spousal assault including the following: “Violence in Relationship Training,” “An Investigative Guide for Sexual Offences,” the video “Violence Against Women, Breaking the Silence,” the CD-ROMs “Family Violence—Not a Private Problem” and “Family Violence in Aboriginal Communities.”

  • RCMP contributes to multiple initiatives related to family violence including awareness and prevention programs, risk assessment tools, data collection, research and evaluation, and training on charging policies. In March 2002 the RCMP held a National Spousal / Partner Assault Workshop.

  • RCMP has an Investigative Guide for Sexual Offences, to provide information on appropriate sexual assault investigations. The RCMP also supports community-based workshops on victim’s issues, sexual assault and violence in relationships.

  • Correctional Services Canada (CSC) and the National Parole Board (NPB) provide members training on family violence.

  • NPB provides training to members regarding the impact of victimization and the role of victims and NPB hearings.

  • Policy Centre for Victims Issues (PCVI) assisting in development of manuals for Victim / Witness Assistants in the Territories.

  • First Nations Family Violence Course for First Nations police officers.

  • A Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors on Criminal Harassment (1999) provides guidelines for law enforcement and other justice officials regarding spousal violence and stalking.

2. Co-ordinating Mechanisms

None as of yet, identified as a priority.

  • Established in 1988, the current Family Violence Initiative (FVI) is a $7-million per year, multi-disciplinary inter-departmental co-ordinated federal initiative. It focuses on: promoting public awareness of the risk factors of family violence and the need for public involvement in responding to it; strengthening the criminal justice system and other systems’ response; and supporting data collection, research and evaluation efforts to identify effective interventions.

  • FVI is complemented by other, related federal initiatives—in particular, the National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC) and the Policy Centre for Victims Issues (PCVI).

  • NCPC has a National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention aimed at reducing crime and victimization by addressing their root causes through a social development approach. The Strategy places a particular emphasis on preventing violence against children, youth, women and Aboriginal people. The Strategy, which began in 1994, is currently in Phase 2 (1998–2003) and receives $32 million per year. An increase of 145 million over four years was announced in 2001.

  • PCVI has been allocated $5 million per year (2000‑05) for strengthening the role of victims and facilitating their participation in the criminal justice system, including victims of spousal violence. It supports bi-annual meetings of the Federal-Provincial-
    Territorial (FPT) Working Group and Provincial Directors of Victim Services and co-ordination of victims’ issues with other related FPT structures.

3. Support Services
3.1 Victim Services

Victim / Witness Assistance staff operates out of Crown office.

  • RCMP has victim service units that provide information, assistance and referrals in most jurisdictions. Victim service units provide some or all of the following: emotional support, assistance with victim impact statements and other court preparation or accompaniment.

  • RCMP’s National Policy on Victim Services, which includes spousal violence victims, is being revised and expanded.

  • CSC and NPB have designated Victim Liaison Co-ordinators in all regions to co-ordinate information services to victims of federally incarcerated inmates.

  • The Victims’ Fund, administered by the PCVI provides grants and contributions for innovative projects including new approaches to service delivery, increasing access to services and providing information about existing services and for victims of crime.

3.2 Shelters
  • Six women’s shelters.

  • Social services offer some support.

  • Some independent societies centred on family violence issues.

  • Most women have to leave the community to receive service.

The Shelter Enhancement Initiative under the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provides grants to repair and improve existing shelters for women and children who are victims of family violence. This program was expanded to include shelters and second-stage housing for youth who are victims of family violence. While funding is mainly directed to existing facilities, some funding is available for the creation of new spaces, or acquisition of existing space for use as emergency or second-stage housing. (1996‑2002).

3.3 Programs for Children Exposed to Family Violence  
  • The Department of Justice (DoJ) funded a needs assessment of intervention models for children who witness violence in the home: “Intervention Models for Children who Witness Violence: A Needs Assessment” (1998).

  • DoJ also funded the London Family Court Clinic to create a Handbook for Police Trainers to Increase Understanding and improve Community Responses to Children Exposed to Violence.

  • PCVI funded the development of a Directory of Court Based Services for children and youth who are victims or witnesses in criminal proceedings.

3.4 Abusive Partner Programs

Program review underway to determine if there is a cultural basis for many corrections based programs including assaultive men’s programming.

  • CSC has had family violence programs for federal male offenders since 1990 utilizing risk assessment, case supervision and programs to address violence against women.

  • The national Moderate Intensity Family Violence Prevention Program is a cognitive-behavioural program for moderate risk federal offenders consisting of about 24 group sessions.

  • The national High Intensity Family Violence Prevention Program consists of about 75 group sessions and is for high-risk offenders. Both National programs include maintenance and treatment components.

4. New Initiatives (non justice)

Establishment of informal menrs’s and women’s groups in some communities.

  • A new Victims of Crime Policy will soon be released in the Federal Prosecutions Deskbook.

  • Federal Prosecution Service is currently reviewing is prosecution policy on spousal violence.

  • The Department of Justice Canada hosted an FPT Forum on Spousal Abuse in March 1998 to discuss and exchange best practices by police, Crown Prosecutors, corrections officials, victim services and policy experts relating to spousal abuse cases. A second FPT Forum was held in March 2001.

5. Reports  
  • The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (NCFV), a federal resource centre operated through the FVI, contains a large number of reports related to spousal abuse. Recent additions to the NCFV include “Canada’s Treatment Programs for Men who Abuse their Partners 2002,” “Transition Houses and Shelters For Abused Women In Canada” (2002), and “A National Directory of Services and Programs for Men Who are or Have Been Victims of Violence” (2002).

  • DoJ also commissioned an array of reports related to spousal violence. Recent related reports include “Victim’s Experiences with, Expectations and Perceptions of Restorative Justice” (2000), “Charging and Prosecution Policies in Cases of Spousal Assault: A Synthesis of Research, Academic, and Judicial Responses” (2001) and “The Ontario Rural Women Abuse Study (ORWAS)—Final Report” (2000).

  • Other federal publications and reports include the following:

    • fact sheets on the role of victims of crime (NPB)
    • An Information Guide to Assist Victims Federal Corrections and Conditional Release (Solicitor General)

    • Family Violence in Aboriginal Communities (RCMP)

    • the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women’s final report (1993)

    • The Sub-Committee on the Status of Women, The War Against Women: Report of the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, Social Affairs, Seniors and the Status of Women (1991).

    • the Federal Response to The War Against Women (1991)

    • the Self-Defence Review Panel Final Report (1997)

6.  Data Collection
  • Under the FVI, Statistics Canada (SC) has released five annual reports entitled Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile. These reports covering the years 1998 to 2002 are part of an ongoing initiative to inform the public about family violence issues and provide current data on the nature and extent of family violence incidents in Canada and trends over time.

  • The 1993 Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS) was a specialized victimization survey measuring self-reported experiences of violence against Canadian women, including experiences of spousal violence. The VAWS is now being used as a model for an international violence against women survey.

  • The 1999 General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization included a module on spousal violence which was the first large-scale traditional victimization survey to measure both women’s and men’s experiences of spousal violence. The spousal violence module will be repeated in the next GSS on Victimization.

  • The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2) Survey collects police-reported incident-based crime statistics from the policing community, including data on the relationship between the accused and the victim. In 2000, 166 police agencies in nine provinces, representing 53% of the national volume of reported crime, were participating in the UCR2.

  • The Homicide Survey provides police-reported data on the characteristic of all homicide incidents, victims and accused persons, including spousal homicides.

  • The Transition Home Survey was developed under the FVI in consultation with provincial and territorial governments and transition home associations. The survey collects information on residential services for abused women and their children. It has been repeated five times since 1992.

  • SC also produces “Juristat” publications on a variety of issues, such as Children Witnessing Family Violence (2001), Spousal Violence after Marital Separation (2001) and National Trends in Intimate Partner Homicides, 1974–2001 (2002).

  • The FVI, in conjunction with other sponsors, commissioned a report released in May 2002 entitled Public Attitudes Towards Family Violence: A Syndicated Study, based on original data from a telephone survey of more than 2,000 Canadians.