By Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development
and Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Oct. 11, 2012
VICTORIA - Violence in the home has a devastating impact on too many women, children and families throughout B.C.
Domestic violence does not discriminate. It exists in households of every socio-economic status, and every ethnic and cultural background. It is often used as a weapon of control and intimidation by a partner, spouse or ex-spouse.
As a government, we are committed to building a strong, cohesive system of supports and services to address the very serious and complex issue of domestic violence throughout the province.
That's why we created the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence earlier this year, and committed to developing and releasing an action plan, which lays out key actions we will take, with timelines for completion.
On Oct. 10, we publicly released our plan, called Taking Action on Domestic Violence in British Columbia. Key actions include domestic violence training for over 20,000 school personnel and other community partners and an enhanced flagging system in the integrated justice information database (JUSTIN) used by police and Crown counsel, to improve identification of files involving child victims.
Also, we have committed to developing better ways of identifying and supporting children and families who are impacted by serious parental mental illness, problematic substance use and/or domestic violence.
This action plan responds to all of the recommendations made in the Representative for Children and Youth's March 2012 report, Honouring Kaitlynne, Max and Cordon: Make Their Voices Heard Now. The plan was developed in consultation with the ministries of Children and Family Development, Health, Justice, Social Development, Education, and Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. The Representative also was consulted on the plan.
The next step for the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence will be to develop a three-year comprehensive provincial plan to address domestic violence over the long term that will include an Aboriginal-specific strategy. The provincewide plan will be ready for implementation in 2013.
Strengths and gaps within the current system will be identified so that we know what is working well now, and what will need to be improved as we move forward.
Due to feelings of isolation, fear, and intimidation, many people do not speak up if they are being abused at home. They live in fear, and therefore do not get the help that they need to get out of their current situation. That's something that we want to see change.
The B.C. government commits more than $70 million annually on key prevention and intervention services and supports designed to help protect families impacted by domestic violence and other crimes.
Our groundbreaking Family Law Act, which will come into force on March 18th, 2013, explicitly defines family violence. The new act will replace restraining orders, with a new protection order which will create a stronger measure to protect women, children and families. Breaches of protection orders will constitute a criminal offence.
A multilingual, toll-free, 24-hour victim helpline called VictimLink BC can be accessed from anywhere in B.C. at 1 800 563-0808. Important information can be found online at http://www.victimlinkbc.ca and (domesticviolencebc.ca) www.domesticviolencebc.ca
As much as we have taken steps forward over the last several years, we know there are more actions that need to be taken to respond to this complex issue.
We are confident that we are on the right track, through our action plan, to move forward on a strong course of action that protects and supports victims of domestic violence. We will continue to work closely with all of our valued community partners on these important action steps.
The bottom line is we want to put a stop to domestic violence - before it ever begins. Everyone - government, police, Crown counsel, social services, health-care professionals and other community partners - has a role here.
It's our collective responsibility to stop the violence.