Family Violence Initiative Evaluation, Final Report

3. KEY FINDINGS (cont'd)

3.3. Effectiveness

The Justice FVI is designed to improve the responsiveness of the justice system in the intermediate term. In reviewing the progress made, it is important to recognize that the Justice FVI operates with modest resources. Moreover, as the program does not provide direct family violence services, it works to influence the policies, regulations, laws and practices which are in place as well as increase the level of awareness, knowledge and skills amongst those operating in the system.

3.3.1. Strengthened Capacity of the Justice System to Address Family Violence

The results of the document review and key informant interviews indicate that the Justice FVI has undertaken a wide range of activities to facilitate increased capacity of the justice system to address family violence. For example, the Justice FVI has monitored current legal trends, developments, best practices and emerging family violence issues domestically and internationally; identified gaps in existing policies and laws; worked with various multidisciplinary partners to identify options for improvement in policy, legislation, regulation, tools and services; recommended and advised on legal and policy-related family violence-related issues, proposed policy, and proposed legislative and regulatory reforms within the Department and with external groups such as other federal government departments, provincial and territorial governments, and other international groups and organizations; and supported the development of international treaties, resolutions and reports related to family violence and violence against women.

When asked to rate the impact in strengthening capacity of the justice system, on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is no impact at all and 5 is a major impact, other stakeholders provided an average rating of 3.6, federal partners and provincial and territorial justice officials provided an average rating of 3.3, and Justice employees provided an average rating of 4.6. In addition to the impact on professional awareness, understanding and skills, which is described later, these key informants specifically highlighted the support for legislative reform at the federal level as well as at the provincial and territorial level, the progress made towards further integrating family and criminal courts, and the program’s international contributions.

The Justice FVI has provided input into legislative reform by examining existing and proposed federal legislation through a family violence lens.

In Canada, the federal government has the constitutional authority to make laws in relation to criminal law and procedure. As a result, the Criminal Code applies to all Canadians. Although the Criminal Code does not refer to specific "family violence offences", many Criminal Code offences are used to charge people in cases involving family violence. The Justice FVI has supported or contributed to the following relevant legislative reform efforts:

Examples of other recent or proposed changes to the Criminal Code include strengthening the peace bond provisions concerning those previously convicted of sexual offences against children; ending the use of "house arrest" for offences involving serious personal injury; increasing mandatory minimum penalties for serious offences where a firearm is used; and addressing other issues such as the age of consent, parental child abduction (with the goal of amending s. 282 and s. 283 of the Criminal Code to make them consistent with the changes proposed in Bill C-22 and with the Child Centred Family Law Strategy), and reasonable use of force by parents to correct a child (proposed amendments through Private Members Bills to s. 43 of the Criminal Code).

Through working with its provincial and territorial partners, the Justice FVI has also influenced the development of provincial and territorial family violence legislation.

Six provincial governments (Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan) and the three territorial governments have proclaimed specific legislation on family violence that complement the Criminal Code and offer further protections to victims by providing for emergency protection orders, limits on contact and communication, and temporary exclusive possession of the home. All provinces and territories also have child protection laws that provide for state intervention where parents or legal guardians are unable or unwilling to meet the child’s physical, emotional and psychological needs.

The 2009 Symposium entitled Family Violence: The Intersection of Family and Criminal Justice System Responses represented a step towards increasing capacity, beginning the process of identifying and addressing challenges posed by differing objectives and legal standards of the criminal and family justice system responses to family violence.

Hosted by the Justice FVI, the February 2009 Symposium brought together over 300 lawyers, judges, law enforcement officers, child protection workers, academics and government officials from across Canada as well as presenters from the United States and the United Kingdom to address the challenges posed by the different objectives and legal standards of the criminal and family justice system responses. The following day, a meeting of approximately 75 federal, provincial and territorial government officials was held to discuss key issues and how those issues directly affect their respective areas. The purpose of the meeting, as set out in the agenda for the day, was “to provide officials with an opportunity to discuss the issues raised during the Symposium, to enhance linkages between the different federal-provincial-territorial committees, to share information on the challenges posed by the different objectives and legal standards of the criminal and family justice systems, and to showcase promising practices in responding to these challenges.”

The Symposium has led to various initiatives. Terms of reference for a new federal-provincial-territorial working group were established and there are plans to conduct research on gaps and possible best practices. Some provinces (e.g., Prince Edward Island) have established their own committees to explore how to coordinate the family and criminal law systems better. In a first for the Canadian justice system, a new initiative launched in Ontario (2011) aims at minimizing the hardships for families in crisis by merging some family court and domestic violence cases.[39] The Integrated Domestic Violence Court will serve people who are dealing with family court issues as well as criminal charges related to domestic abuse. It will operate as a pilot project in one Toronto courthouse with a view to expanding in the province, if deemed a success. The court is largely aimed at helping women, but will also benefit children and the family unit as a whole. As part of its efforts to coordinate the family and criminal law systems better, Manitoba recently concluded a feasibility study on how to link/share protection orders. Saskatchewan is conducting a feasibility study on a similar protection order registry and also secured funding from Justice to provide training for police officers to improve their understanding of abductions within the context of family and criminal law systems.

The Justice FVI has contributed to international initiatives related to family violence.

The Children's Law and Family Violence Policy Unit is active in monitoring and reporting internationally with respect to Canada’s criminal and civil laws and responses to family violence; contributing to the preparation of Canada’s position in regards to questionnaires, reports, resolutions and treaties (e.g., presenting Canada’s position on resolutions related to family violence before the UN General Assembly, the UN Commission for the Status of Women, the UN Commission on the Rights of the Child, and the UN Human Rights Committee). It also actively engages other national governments and international bodies (e.g., United Nations, the Council of Europe) on family violence issues; provides legal policy input to a variety of international activities; and leads federal coordination on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

3.3.2. Enhanced Professional Awareness, Understanding and Skills to Address Family Violence

According to stakeholders, federal partners, provincial and territorial justice officials, and Justice employees, the Justice FVI has helped to improve awareness, understanding and skills to address family violence amongst professionals in the justice system. When asked to rate the impact to date in enhancing professional awareness, understanding and skills to address family violence, on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is no impact at all and 5 is a major impact, federal partners and provincial and territorial justice officials provided an average rating of 3.2, Justice employees provided an average rating of 4.4, and other stakeholders provided an average rating of 3.5. The development of tools, training materials and resources for professionals has led to more informed decision making by courts, police officers, and other justice system professionals, and increased capacity of those involved in various justice system processes and services to better address the needs of the victims of family violence.

The Justice FVI has contributed to enhanced professional awareness, understanding and skills to address family violence through the development of knowledge, tools and resources.

Key informants reported that the knowledge, tools and other resources for professionals developed through research and funded projects have led to more informed decision making by courts, police officers and other justice system professionals. For example, the “Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors on Criminal Harassment”, published in March 2004, was distributed to police, Crown Attorneys, victim services personnel, corrections services personnel, judges, and other criminal justice personnel across Canada. It was developed after the Department of Justice monitored and reviewed s. 264 of the Criminal Code, including case-law and case file reviews as well as interviews with criminal justice personnel across the country. As part of the process to update the Handbook, a literature review was conducted on criminal harassment that examined current trends and research findings in light of recent legislative changes and the emergence of Internet harassment as a serious risk.

A user-friendly information manual that was designed for police officers provides information on family violence, its impacts on children, and special considerations for police officers responding to domestic violence calls. The Brief Spousal Assault Form for the Evaluation of Risk (B-Safer) involved the development and pilot testing of a tool to help police agencies identify spousal assault risk situations and respond in a more timely fashion. “An Inventory of Spousal Violence Risk Assessment Tools” was developed which covers various spousal violence risk assessment tools used in the provinces and territories.

Booklets were developed to aid the implementation of Bill C-2, Special Accommodations and Testimonial Aids measures to facilitate the testimony of children. The booklets provided an overview of issues related to children as witnesses and testimonial aids such as closed circuit television, sequestration screens and video-recorded testimony. Guidance was provided for identified support persons. Moreover, the introduction of hearsay evidence and children testifying in domestic violence court were other topics covered by the material.

Research on the link between family violence and parenting arrangements is available for use by practicing lawyers as well as for policy development. Research has also been undertaken on topics such as: mandatory minimum penalty, how to respond better to victim needs, and the impact that technology has made in identifying the needs of professionals with respect to training and information. The document “Practical Guide on Forced Marriages” is intended for on-the-ground care professionals. Various other reports have also been prepared, such as a paper on best practices for family law lawyers and evaluations of various projects and initiatives (e.g., dedicated domestic assault courts).

Departmental research on issues related to family violence and the justice system is carried out in conjunction with the Research and Statistics Division or through contracts with external researchers. Common methodologies include file and literature reviews, and interviews with service providers. The focus of this research has varied widely, covering such topics as: the evaluation of legislative reforms, roles and experiences of victims of family violence involved in the justice system; understanding family violence and sexual assault in the North; the timeliness of court proceedings; barriers to reporting family violence; better understanding on how the bail system responds to individuals accused of spousal violence; the impact of family violence on children; the need for enhanced understanding of family violence in ethno-cultural minority communities; effective interventions related to the prevention and reduction of family violence; judicial perceptions of testimonial aids; and court observation studies on the use of testimonial aids by children. To facilitate access to other research, the Justice FVI maintains links with the Alliance of Canadian Research Centres on Violence and the Canadian Observatory on the Justice System Response to Family Violence.

The projects supported under the Justice FVI most commonly focus on professionals in the justice system, helping to increase their understanding of family violence or enhancing their skills in addressing that violence.

The document review conducted as part of this evaluation sampled 30 of the 55 projects funded under the Justice FVI. The impact most commonly mentioned, when multiple responses are possible, included the enhanced understanding and skills among professionals to tackle family violence (reported by 55% of projects). The next most commonly mentioned impacts were: the enhanced awareness and understanding of family violence issues among the public (40% of projects); the improved availability and accessibility to information and services related to family violence (20% of projects); the increased engagement of stakeholders/communities and the improvement/development of support/education/outreach programs to address family violence (20% of projects); an improved responsiveness of the justice system (15% of projects); and the establishment of partnerships/collaborations to address family violence (5% of projects).[40]

The Justice FVI has also funded or participated in conferences, symposia and other events that have disseminated information to professional groups, enhanced professional awareness and understanding of emerging issues, and encouraged greater cultural competency in order to increase knowledge of emerging issues and enhance efforts in addressing various aspects of family violence.

These events help to sensitize justice system professionals to the unique dynamics of family violence matters. The recent conference, “Dialogue on Family Violence in Culturally Diverse Communities”, staged by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in March 2011, informed participants of the efforts made to eradicate violence against women. The target audience included representatives from justice, public health, education, immigration, victim services, culturally diverse communities, and all orders of government.

The Conference “Northern Responses and Approaches to Victims of Crime: Building on Strength and Resilience”, co-sponsored with the Policy Centre for Victims Issues, was a three-day conference held in Yellowknife in 2009. It brought together victim services professionals who work with victims of crime in the northern regions of Canada to participate in practical workshops and presentations.

A think-tank session, built on the activities of the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, brought together policy representatives, justice officials, service providers and others from various provinces. The session encouraged establishment of similar committees in four provinces as well as an annual conference, the “Canadian Conference on the Prevention of Domestic Homicides”.

The results of two spousal abuse fora (1998 and 2001) led to the establishment of a FPT committee and research that examined issues, emerging trends, policies, processes, and possible strategies, actions and criminal law reforms. The result was a report entitled “Spousal Abuse Policies and Legislation: Final Report of the Ad Hoc Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group Reviewing Spousal Abuse Policies and Legislation” prepared in 2003. Follow-up activities identified as improving the responsiveness of the justice system to address family violence include the various amendments to the Criminal Code that strengthened existing provisions and created new offences; working with provincial and territorial counterparts to develop protocols for handling cases of spousal abuse; supporting the establishment and evaluation of specialized domestic violence courts; supporting the development and expansion of court and police-based victim witness programs; conducting research to better understand and deal with spousal abuse; and informing the public about the nature and prevalence of the spousal abuse problem.

Finally, the 2009 Symposium on the Intersection of Family and Criminal Justice System Responses was an opportunity to share information among professional groups and increase knowledge of emerging issues as mentioned above.

The Justice FVI has also increased access to training resources that will enable those involved in various justice system processes and services to address the needs of the victims of family violence better.

As an example, the Justice FVI contributed to editing substantial documents that are part of the Canadian Red Cross training materials for Canadian professionals and paraprofessionals working directly with children and in related professions. These documents enhance awareness and provide definitions for concepts such as impacts, vulnerable populations, disclosure, protection, intervention, investigation and Canada’s laws in relation to child sexual abuse. Another contribution directed to professional training is the project to develop culturally appropriate training materials for federal Crown Attorneys, undertaken in collaboration with the PPSC.

With funding from the Justice FVI, the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada developed a national mobile training module for frontline workers in women’s shelters in Inuit communities. The group had identified the need for a culturally appropriate module for these workers in remote/isolated communities. The results of the case study indicate that, to date, staff members at ten shelters in the Arctic region have been trained. The remaining four shelters are in the process of introducing the training module to their respective staff. To ensure that new shelter workers will continue to have access to the training module, a web component of the module has been developed along with a train-the-trainer approach. Those who received the training reported that the module enabled them to provide better services to the women at the shelters (e.g., by making it easier to identify suicidal tendencies in a timely manner). Due to this success, the training module has also been adopted by the Government of Nunavut and Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. The module can be adapted to the unique needs of each community/organization, which increases the efficacy of knowledge transfer to trainees, giving them the knowledge they need to provide effective support to victims of abuse and family violence. The Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada is currently working on developing another module to address the issue of vicarious trauma.

3.3.3. Enhanced Public Awareness and Understanding of Family Violence and the Justice System

The results of the document review and interviews with key informants indicate that the Justice FVI has helped to increase public awareness and understanding of family violence and the justice system, primarily by increasing the availability and accessibility of PLEI material and information.

The PLEI activities of the Justice FVI are intended to identify the need for public information materials on family violence; support the development of resources, such as fact sheets, brochures, training programs and workshops; deliver PLEI on family violence issues by working with PLEI organizations across Canada; and evaluate education and information materials. When asked to rate the impact in increasing availability and access to PLEI materials and information on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is no impact at all and 5 is a major impact, federal partners and provincial and territorial justice officials provided an average rating of 3.6, Justice employees provided an average rating of 4.5, and other stakeholders provided an average rating of 3.8. When asked to rate the impact in enhancing public awareness and understanding, on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is no impact at all and 5 is a major impact, federal partners and provincial and territorial justice officials provided an average rating of 3.5, other stakeholders provided an average rating of 3.4, and Justice employees provided an average rating of 4.1.

By highlighting the characteristics and incidence of family violence, PLEI materials help to draw public attention to the issue and raise awareness of the seriousness of the problem. The document review and key informant interviews indicate that the Justice FVI has developed materials that are language-specific and culturally appropriate, supported the development of other resources including fact sheets, made PLEI material available through the Department’s FVI website and the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, and provided project support to PLEI organizations.

The “Abuse is Wrong in any Language” booklet (written for immigrant and refugee women on spousal abuse) is available in 17 languages, including Braille. “Stalking Is A Crime Called Criminal Harassment” has been produced in five languages and explains the types of behaviour that count as criminal harassment and what victims can do to protect themselves better. “Abuse is Wrong in Any Culture” is a booklet for Inuit women who are suffering from abuse in a family or other relationship. It is available in English, French, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut and Labradorimiut. These materials have been tailored to reach specific cultural groups. Seeking input from community members to incorporate culturally sensitive language into materials and informing communities of such materials were identified as important steps in improving the accessibility of PLEI materials.

Other resources, including fact sheets which were developed, provide the public with up-to-date information about family violence issues, including the justice/legislative responses to these issues. Topics such as family violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, abuse of older adults, dating violence, and sexual abuse and exploitation of children and youth are included.

The public legal educational material and information has been available through the Department’s FVI website since 2002. In 2010, over 115,000 unique visitors generated over 1.6 million hits on the websites. The top entry pages for the family violence site were the “Child Abuse Fact Sheet” (9%), the French Language Home Page for the youth site (4%), the “Spousal Abuse Fact Sheet” (3.4%), and the English Language Home Page (2.4%).

An evaluation of the Justice FVI website was undertaken in 2010. It examined the relevance of the website to its users, the extent of the website’s reach, the effectiveness of the layout and design, the quality and extent of content of the FVI site, and the Youth site in particular. The FVI site was deemed to be useful, but would have been considered of greater use if visitors could be confident that the information is up-to-date. Accessing the site through a search engine was seen to be challenging for first-time users, particularly as the search engine was more likely to find the FVI website if the word “abuse” was used rather than “family violence”. A recent test on a few search engines demonstrates that this is no longer the case. The view was also expressed that relevant legislation from both the federal and provincial/territorial governments should be accessible from the site.

Among the key findings with respect to the Youth FVI site were that no other government site in Canada or internationally provides similar information to the Youth FVI to that site. This finding is similar to that of a review of websites conducted in 2006. However, research indicated that to be relevant to the informational needs of youth, the Youth site needed to be visually attractive, interactive, easily navigated and address the issues of family violence that affect youth. Youth who were asked to review the site found it challenging to navigate when seeking information about “where to get help” and relied more on community resources for this type of information. These issues have subsequently been addressed.

Materials are also made available through other means including: the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (which is maintained by the PHAC); the websites of the ten provincial and two territorial PLEI organizations; the hosting of and attending and presenting at conferences (where staff can distribute materials, answer questions, and provide referrals to other sources of material and information on family violence); and the work with other groups that distribute targeted materials to newcomers. The Initiative is also planning to work with provincial and territorial representatives to distribute materials to appropriate target audiences. “An Inventory of Family Violence and Victim Public Legal Education and Information Materials” has also been developed which can be searched by such criteria as “jurisdiction, year, audience, topic and format.”

Support is provided to PLEI organizations for projects designed to inform and assist those affected by family violence. Over the past five years, 20 projects have been supported with funding totaling $678,000. Examples of activities undertaken by these projects include: holding workshops, publishing and distributing new materials, updating and reprinting existing materials, providing related training, and developing, implementing and assessing an innovative model of PLEI service delivery.

In addition, the key informants noted the contribution of community workshops (which raised awareness of specific issues such as elder abuse, child sexual abuse, family violence in Aboriginal communities, and abuse in rural areas) and other projects which improved the visibility of family violence issues/topics within targeted communities, increased knowledge about the issues and individual rights and responsibilities, and improved ability of community organizations to effectively respond to family violence.

Case studies of two activities carried out through the Justice FVI demonstrate how they have contributed towards increased public awareness and understanding of family violence and the justice system.

The “Abuse is Wrong in any Language” and “Abuse is Wrong in Any Culture” were designed for immigrant and Inuit women, respectively, experiencing spousal and family violence. The “Abuse is Wrong” publication was developed to address family violence issues in general and was designed for the general public in order to address an information gap for anyone who is suffering from abuse in a family or other relationship. It provides information on various abuse-related topics in layman’s terms. In total, 30,000 copies of the publication were printed and distribution is proceeding. The publication has been requested frequently by community organizations for use in their work. At the federal level, “Abuse is Wrong in Any Language” has been used by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in the delivery of its orientation program to facilitate the settlement, adaptation and integration of future Canadians. Service Canada also orders publications in this series from time to time, though their “Feature of the Month” program has recently been cancelled. The publication is also available from Justice. Between July 1, 2009 and June 8, 2011, the HTML version of “Abuse is Wrong in Any Language” was viewed 17,173 times. During the same period, 2,556 PDF versions of the publication were downloaded.

As one of the partners in the Federal Elder Abuse Initiative (FEAI), the Department developed elder abuse-related resources and tools such as an online quiz on elder abuse, a fact sheet on financial fraud, and four fraud awareness brochures. These resources and tools complemented the FEAI public awareness campaign launched by HRSDC in 2009 and demand has been high. For example, between October 2010 and March 2011, 21,464 publication orders for the four fraud awareness brochures came through Service Canada’s “1- 800 O-Canada” telephone line and the majority of these calls was made by members of the general public. The Department has also produced a publication titled "Elder Abuse is Wrong”, which is intended for older adults who may be suffering from abuse by someone they trust (e.g., a partner or spouse, a family member, a caregiver, a service provider or another individual).

Opportunities exist to further improve public awareness and understanding of justice- related family violence issues.

Stakeholders suggested that efforts to enhance public awareness and understanding of justice-related family violence issues would benefit from a greater focus on the prevention of family violence. It was noted that the PLEI materials are targeted largely to those who had been victimized and limited efforts have been made to raise awareness of the issues related to family violence within the general public to prevent victimization. Similarly, the primary focus of the Justice FVI has centered on those who have been victimized (i.e. events that occur after the domestic violence incident). Moreover, several representatives noted that the Justice FVI has been effective in developing PLEI materials, particularly materials in plain language, but efforts to widely disseminate those materials have proven less successful. In addition, Justice has utilized the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence for PLEI material distribution but, effective June 30, 2011, the Clearinghouse no longer disseminates hard copy publications.

3.3.4. Improved Engagement/Ability of Stakeholders and Communities to Address Needs and Issues of Those Affected by Family Violence.

The Justice FVI employs various strategies, including project funding, to engage local organizations in addressing family violence issues.

In addition to PLEI projects, the Justice FVI provides funding for innovative projects that develop, implement, test and assess models, strategies and tools to improve the criminal justice system's response to family violence. These projects increase the ability of communities to respond to and meet the needs of persons impacted by family violence, to develop resources, to collaborate with other organizations, and to communicate better with target groups as well as partners. A document review of a sample of 30 of the 55 projects funded under the Justice FVI found that the majority (87%) of the projects involved formal or informal partnerships and collaborations among organizations and communities. The partners and stakeholders included FPT government bodies and health agencies, organizations providing services to victims of family violence, advocacy organizations, associations representing legal and justice professionals, community organizations, and organizations representing specific groups such as women, seniors, youth, immigrants, Aboriginals, and minorities defined in terms of language, ethnicity or religion.

The projects targeted a range of project beneficiaries and target groups. The groups most commonly mentioned (when multiple responses are possible)[41] included: legal and justice professionals/frontline workers/service providers (reported by 67% of projects); hard-to-reach communities and the general public (53% of projects); victims of family violence (30% of projects); and stakeholders such as community and advocacy organizations (30% of projects). Of the projects reviewed, 16 were targeted to women, 13 to francophone communities, 11 to service providers, 7 to Aboriginal communities, 7 to justice professionals, and 5 to children and youth.

The projects are designed to address a range of issues. The project objectives mentioned most commonly (when multiple responses are possible, i.e., a particular project could have more than one objective) include: providing family violence-related training and education for frontline workers and service providers (47% of projects); developing family violence-related resources and tools for community organizations and hard-to-reach communities (40% of projects); increasing access to and availability of family violence-related information and services for the public (37% of projects); establishing partnerships/collaborations among organizations and communities for an integrated response to family violence (37% of projects); strengthening the capacity of the justice system (23% of projects); increasing awareness and understanding of family violence issues among legal and justice professionals, victims of family violence, and the general public (reported by 33% of projects); and identifying and addressing services gap in legal, justice and community programs related to family violence (17% of projects).

The impact of many of the projects continues. Thirty percent of the proponents reported that the programming, services or outputs that resulted from the funded projects would continue to be available as originally intended, whereas 17% of the projects reported undertaking follow-up work to build on the outputs/outcomes of the funded projects.

In addition to providing project funding, the Justice FVI is also described as a catalyst bringing stakeholder and community representatives together, creating opportunities for information sharing and dialogue, showcasing effective approaches and best practices, and working with stakeholders and communities on issues of shared concern. For example, the Forum on Justice Programs in Northern and Remote Aboriginal Communities showcased the Rankin Inlet Spousal Assault Counseling Program and the Hollow Water Community Holistic Circle Health Program to highlight effective approaches in addressing family violence in Aboriginal communities.

The case studies and key informant interviews provide examples of how projects have contributed towards engaging stakeholders and communities as well as improving their ability to address the needs and issues of those affected by family violence.

Recognizing that there tends to be a very short window of opportunity to intervene in high-risk domestic violence situations, the Domestic Violence Urgent Response project in Regina developed a tailored and immediate intervention strategy for victims of domestic violence and abusers in extremely high-risk relationships. The focus was to ensure better coordination of services following denunciation of violence (i.e. police officers take immediate measures to address the violent incident). This involved encouraging, and helping to facilitate the gathering of evidence from victims immediately following a violent incident. The project partners (Family Service Regina, Regina Police Service, Regina District Prosecutions, Regina-Qu’Appelle Adult Probation Services, Regina Region Victim Services, and Regina Correctional Centre) developed protocols and criteria to identify high-risk abusers, formulated uniform guidelines to ensure immediate actions after denunciation of violence, and trained applicable staff (e.g., new police recruits, emergency call centre operators, volunteer workers, etc.) for timely intervention. The collaborative approach was found to have resulted in a better understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence on the part of each partner. As well, the case study found that the project resulted in higher success rates with respect to obtaining evidence and testimony from victims which, in turn, has contributed to more effective prosecutions. Family Service Regina, the lead partner, is currently working towards bringing Addiction Services on board to better assist victims with drug addiction as well as secure their cooperation in prosecuting their abusers.

The Sharing Lessons Learned from the Muslim Family Safety Project developed a culturally sensitive resource guide for distribution to social service agencies and members of minority community groups. The guide incorporates the best practices and lessons learned from the Muslim Family Safety Project. On the one hand, the project successfully engaged the Muslim community in London, Ontario by raising their awareness and understanding of the Canadian family violence framework and system. As a result, more Muslim women who have been victims of family violence have come forward to seek help. Muslim community leaders including imams have also started openly discussing family violence issues and acting as sources of referral for service providers. On the other hand, the Project enhanced the understanding of Muslim religion and cultural values among mainstream service providers so that they could better understand and address family violence issues within the Muslim community. The guide and the related workshops/presentations are designed to equip service providers working in minority communities to provide their services in a culturally and religiously appropriate manner, as the means to bring about the changes they are seeking.

The Beyond Shelter Walls project contributed to raising awareness of violence against women. The resulting report, targeted at federal, provincial, and territorial policy-makers, focused on reducing violence against women in Canada through policy in the areas of criminal justice and policing, law, housing, income support, employment training, immigration, health and social services. Another ongoing project provides rehabilitative support programs to men who have just been charged with violent crimes against their spouses. The project incorporates community education programs aimed at changing the current culture of male dominance and violence against women to one in which men are involved in creating a culture of mutual respect and non-violence.

The Justice FVI has also collaborated with a variety of other stakeholders including others in the Department, other federal government departments, and provincial and territorial departments.

The Justice FVI works with others in the federal government, particularly with respect to supporting or contributing to legislative reform efforts. The Justice FVI examines existing and proposed legislation through a family violence lens and, where issues are identified, has attempted to address them by developing resources that help Justice officials to better apply the existing legislation. Justice has also been a partner in the three-year FEAI led by HRSDC. Since the Justice had already carried out elder abuse work in the past as part of its family violence mandate, implementation of select components of FEAI was delegated to the Department in order to leverage its expertise and experience. One of the components involved funding legal and social science research to complement the limited elder abuse research work that had been carried out in Canada (e.g., develop more comprehensive legal definitions of elder abuse and neglect with a view to informing the Criminal Code, incorporate Aboriginal and ethnic perspectives into elder abuse policy work, and better understand the types and dynamics of elder abuse). The Justice FVI has also funded research on elder abuse awareness, reporting and the legal aspects of elder abuse; produced materials for seniors to raise awareness of the risk of fraud; and provided funding to regional PLEI organizations working on the legal aspects of elder abuse. It is expected that when the findings of these research studies are released, they will inform and influence elder abuse policy and programming in the future and will ultimately improve the responsiveness of the justice system in addressing elder abuse.

By sharing information and facilitating dialogue, the Justice FVI was seen to also support provincial and territorial governments in taking action and building on the approaches, best practices and lessons learned.

3.4. Efficiency and Economy

3.4.1. Use of Existing Resources

The level of investment in the Initiative is very small in comparison to the cost of family violence in Canada.

Although it is difficult to put a monetary value on the full cost of family violence in terms of damages to society, emotional impacts of family members, and lifetime suffering of victims, an estimate of the dollar value for tangible costs can highlight the economic importance of programming such as the FVI.

Cost studies in two specific areas of family violence suggest that the general costs of violence against women and children could be over $19 billion and the criminal justice costs could be $1.5 billion per year. One study reviewed the costs of various forms of violence against women, including women abused in intimate relationships, and estimated that Canadian society pays $4.2 billion per year in social services, education, criminal justice, labour, employment, health and medical costs.[42] The total criminal justice costs alone were about $900 million per year. Another study estimated the costs of child abuse in Canada (i.e., the judicial, social services, education, health, employment and personal costs) to be in excess of $15 billion, of which more than $600 million was in judicial costs.[43]

The total investment in the overall FVI ($7 million per year) would be equal to only 0.03% of these estimated costs. It should be noted that these figures represent very rough estimates, as they do not include the costs of violence against other members of a family (e.g., older adults) as well as the cost of pain, suffering, or loss in quality of life.

The Justice Family Violence Initiative has made efficient use of the resources available.

The results of the interviews, case studies and document review highlighted various strategies through which the FVI has been able to limit expenditures to outside parties. By undertaking certain functions internally, such as typesetting and translation for the production of the “Abuse is Wrong” publication, Justice was able to reduce contract costs.

Other efficiencies have been realized by working in conjunction with other federal partners to achieve returns of scale. For example, as part of its involvement in the FEAI, the Department commissioned three public opinion studies to measure and track changes in public awareness and perception vis-à-vis elder abuse issues. Justice worked closely with HRSDC during the second public opinion study so that HRSDC could add some follow-up questions for comparison to results of its earlier baseline study. The coordinated efforts eliminated the need for a separate follow-up study by HRSDC.

The FVI-supported projects have also leveraged funding from other sources. For example, the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada developed a web component for its training module along with a train-the-trainer approach to circumvent the need to make costly trips to remote/isolated communities to conduct the training for new shelter workers. Twenty-nine of the 30 projects included in the document review provided data on total project budget, which were used to calculate leverage ratios. Eighteen of the 29 projects reported receiving funding from at least one additional source and the average leverage ratio was 57%. Other funding sources included other federal government departments, provincial and territorial governments, community organizations, non-profit foundations, other Justice funding streams, and quantifiable in-kind contributions. In addition, all three project proponents included in the case studies reported extensive use of in-kind contributions, both on their part as well as on the part of partner organizations. In addition, where alternative funding was available, the FVI referred project applicants to other sources funding (e.g., the Victims Fund).

3.4.2. Factors Contributing to and Constraining Program Efficiency

The efficiency of the FVI has benefited from the continued involvement of key personnel and the long history of the Initiative, which together have contributed to a strong understanding of the mandate, objectives, structures, roles and responsibilities.

The Initiative was originally supported through two five-year major funding initiatives before converting to a permanent annual allocation in 1997. The Department staff has a long history of working within the Justice FVI. Key informants noted that this extensive experience contributes to efficiency of operation by providing staff with a strong understanding of the issues related to family violence, the roles, responsibilities and activities of the Department with respect to those issues, and the objectives and mandate of the Justice FVI as well as those of federal partners, provincial and territorial governments, and other stakeholders. It was further noted that the efficiency of the FVI benefits from the clear understanding of the mandate and objectives of the Justice FVI which exists not only amongst the staff directly involved in the Initiative, but amongst their colleagues within Justice.

The results of the key informant interviews, case studies and document reviews highlighted some best practices and lessons learned.

Collaboration and coordination with other federal government departments, provincial and territorial governments, and other partners/stakeholders are critical to the success of the activities supported through the FVI. Since addressing family violence is a complex process that warrants a coordinated and comprehensive approach involving multiple jurisdictions and organizations, an integrated approach to address family violence focused on sharing best practices (identified informally by staff or through formal evaluations) and leveraging resources and expertise with other organizations is appropriate. Partnerships and leveraging have also helped the Department to continue carrying out the Justice FVI without compromising the breadth and depth of activities/projects despite resource constraints.

Ongoing communication and interaction with other federal government departments, provincial and territorial governments, and other partners and stakeholders are best practices given the importance of collaboration and coordination. Communication and information sharing vis-à-vis FVI activities help to identify and capitalize on opportunities for collaboration as well as to follow up on previous projects. Information sharing also helps to convey how the Justice FVI fits into and contributes to the overall federal government-wide FVI.

The efficacy of FVI activities and projects is enhanced when there is strong understanding of the values, experiences and needs of those targeted. As such, undertaking extensive consultation and building strong relationships with the target groups are identified as best practices. A strong understanding of values, experiences and needs also contributes to more productive working relationships.