Making the Links in Family Violence Cases: Collaboration among the Family, Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems

Annex 4: Family violence responses by jurisdiction - Quebec

Legislative Responses

Other legislation

Police

Policies

The Guide de pratiques policières [translation: guide to police practices] published by the Ministère de la Sécurité publique [translation: Ministry of Public Safety] provides that, where there is a family violence intervention, police officers must provide victims with information on existing resources as well as take measures to facilitate access to these services for victims and children. In addition, in cases of spousal violence, police officers must also inform the suspect of existing resources and encourage him or her to use them. The police officer is also to inform the victim of a suspect's release conditions, if applicable.

Protocols

The establishment of protocols is usually the responsibility of each police force. Under the guide to police practices, each police force must ensure to use a memorandum of understanding on intervention in spousal violence.

The ministère de la Sécurité publique [translation: Ministry of Public Safety] is, however, signatory to the Entente multisectorielle relative aux enfants victimes d'abus sexuels, de mauvais traitements physiques ou d'une absence de soins menaçant leur santé physique [multisectoral agreement on child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect that threatens their physical health] jointly with the ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisirs et du Sport [translation: Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport], ministère de la Justice [translation: Ministry of Justice], ministère de la Famille et des Aînés [translation: Ministry of Family and Seniors] and ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) [translation: Ministry of Health and Social Services]. The purpose of the socio-judicial intervention procedure established in this agreement is to ensure an adequate ongoing response that is in line with the child's need for assistance and protection.

There are also protocols for police referrals to assistance centres for victims of crime (know as CAVAC). However, even without protocols, police forces will inform victims of the existence of services offered to victims, like the CAVACs and encourage them to contact these services.

Child Protection

Protocols

The Entente multisectorielle relative aux enfants victimes d'abus sexuels, de mauvais traitements physiques ou d'une absence de soins menaçant leur santé physique [translation: multisectoral agreement on child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect that threatens their physical health] is an agreement between departments, institutions and relevant bodies to take concerted action for child victims of abuse when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the security or development of these children has been compromised and a crime had been committed against them.

Situations covered by the multisectoral agreement are described in paragraphs 38(d), (e) and sub-paragraph (b)(1)(i) of the Youth Protection Act. They relate to, in particular,

  • child victims of sexual abuse committed by their parents or by adult or minor persons with or without a relationship of authority with them;
  • child victims of physical abuse by their parents or adult persons with or without a relationship of authority with them; and
  • children whose physical health is threatened by the lack of care on the part of their parents or other adults who are in a relationship of authority with them.

Special attention must be paid to children living in certain particular environments where these situations may arise, namely, children living in families with conjugal violence or in sects.

The objectives of the multisectoral agreement are as follows:

  • to develop a framework agreement to which the various partners adhere;
  • to specify the intervention procedure, roles and responsibilities of each partner, taking into account various types of situations;
  • to specify the communication procedures permissible under the legislation;
  • to agree, depending on circumstances, on appropriate procedures for referral to bodies and institutions;
  • to promote the transfer of information by clarifying confidentiality requirements;
  • to reduce intervention delays; and
  • to determine the conditions for applying the framework agreement.

Service-Based Responses

Victim Services

Assistance centres for victims of crime (CAVAC)

CAVACs provide front-line services that are free of charge and confidential to the entire population. They provide post-trauma and psychosocial intervention services consisting of assessing the needs and resources available to victims of crime. Following the assessment, CAVACs intervene with the victim of crime to reduce the impact of the victimization and to allow the person to continue their healing process. CAVAC staff provide information on the rights of victims of crime and the remedies available to them, the main stages of the judicial process, the victims of crime compensation program, the victim impact statement and any financial assistance measures to which victims may be entitled. CAVAC staff also provide technical assistance to victims in filling out forms and in enabling them to comply with all the procedures associated with their situation. CAVAC staff accompany victims in their dealings with medical and community resources and throughout the judicial process as the case proceeds. Moreover, CAVAC staff refer victims to specialized services such as legal, medical, social and community resources, which are able to help them resolve problems that they must confront.

Toll-free Telephone Lines
  • S.O.S. violence conjugale telephone line. The mandate of this telephone line is to provide Quebec women who are victims of spousal violence with intake, assessment and referral to appropriate services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Sexual assault referral telephone line. This free, bilingual and confidential referral telephone line service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is intended to refer victims of sexual assault, their family and stakeholders to the appropriate services.
Information Service

The Act Respecting the Québec Correctional System provides that victims can receive specific information concerning their incarcerated attacker. In addition, they can make written submissions to relate how the crime affected them and the consequences they have suffered since. These submissions would be taken into account when the offender is assessed. All victims have the right to obtain the same information. Nonetheless, victims of spousal violence and of sexual assault will receive this information without having to request it (it is, however, necessary to have their correct contact information in order to reach them). All other victims can receive this information, but must request it in writing. Responsibility: Services correctionnels du Québec [translation: Correctional Services of Québec] (administers prison sentences of two years less a day) and the Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles [translation: Québec Parole Board].

Shelters

Services provided at shelters are accessible to all women and their children who find themselves in situations of spousal violence. Some shelters are accessible to women with functional limitations and there is also a network of shelters for Aboriginal women in Quebec.

The services provided at shelters are essentially emergency sheltering available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and intervention for women who are victims and children who are exposed to spousal violence.

Second Stage Shelters

Second stage shelters are community organizations funded mainly by the Programme de soutient aux organismes communautaires (PSOC) [translation: community organization support program], under MSSS's responsibility and by the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ) [translation: Québec Housing Corporation], in particular, through its Accès-logis program.

The services provided by second stage shelters are accessible to women who are victims of spousal violence and their children going through a transition time after the breakdown of the relationship with the violent partner. Second stage shelters offer women who are victims of spousal violence affordable and accessible housing ensuring the safety of the residents and their children.

The following services are provided:

  • Individual intervention with women and children;
  • Group intervention;
  • Psycho-socio-judicial orientation and accompaniment;
  • Support in various endeavours (immigration, job search, etc);
  • Prevention, awareness training and education;
  • Activities and outings to break down isolation and develop a support network; and
  • Post-shelter follow-up with former residents.

Programs for Children Exposed to Family Violence

Programs for children exposed to spousal violence are offered essentially by shelters for women victims of spousal violence but also by programs run by Centres de santé et de services sociaux [translation: Health and Social Service Centres] in some areas of Quebec.

Abusive Partner Programs

  • Intervention for men who behave violently is also provided by community organizations found throughout Quebec. These organizations are also funded mainly by PSOC under the responsibility of MSSS.
  • The services offered are accessible to all men who behave violently and who wish to begin the process of changing this.
  • The following services are provided:
    • Intake or receipt of a request for help;
    • Assessment of the man who is asking for help;
    • Treatment or therapy provided (individual and group intervention); and
    • Assessment and follow-up at the end of the program.

Supervised Access

  • Supervised Access Services are provided in order to allow children and their loved ones to have a safe and neutral place to allow the child access to a parent with whom they no longer live in order to maintain a relationship with them.
  • These services are used primarily following a Superior Court order when the exercise of access rights is interrupted, difficult or a source of too much conflict following a separation or divorce or on the order of the Court of Quebec's Youth Division under the Youth Protection Act, when a child is removed from the family.
  • Community organizations under the responsibility of the ministère de la Famille et des Aînés [translation: Ministry of Family and Seniors] mainly provide this service through service agreements with the Centres de Santé et de Services sociaux [translation: Health and Social Service Centres].

Education and Information for Parents

The session on parenting after a family breakdown better equips parents to deal with the breakdown and to arrange the terms of separation, whether in family mediation or before the courts. Facilitated by two mediators, one from the legal field and the other from the psychosocial field, the session takes an in-depth look at the consequences of the parents’ break-up on the family, namely, the psychological shock caused by the separation, the children’s needs and reactions, communication with the other parent, as well as the family mediation process and legal aspects. To ensure the safety of the participants, ex-spouses are not registered for the same session, unless requested by them. They may also be accompanied by a person of their choice.

Specialized Services for Victims of sexual assault

The services available through the health and social services network for victims of sexual assault are mainly provided by designated centres, community organizations and the Centres de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS) [translation: Health and Social Services Centres].

Designated Centres

A designated centre is a health and social services facility, usually a hospital centre, offering medical services and designated by the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux [translation: Health and Social Services Agency] (Agency) to ensure medical-social and forensic intervention to victims of sexual assault (children, adolescents, women and men).

These services are provided by a team of social workers, nurses and physicians. The designated centres are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and accept victims within a minimal wait time. There is one in each region of Quebec.

Centres d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel [translation: Assistance centres for victims of sexual assault] (CALACS) and other community organizations

There are more than 40 community organizations in Quebec offering services to victims of sexual assault. The majority of them are CALACS members of the Regroupement des CALACS. They provide direct support to women and girls aged 14 and over who are victims of sexual assault. The main services provided are the following: reception; references; one-on-one counselling and support groups; urgent appointments and accompaniment.

Another part of those 40 organizations provide essentially the same services offered also or more specifically to other clients such as children, adolescents and men.

Centres de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS) [translation: Health and Social Services Centres]

The CSSS offers a range of general health services and social services to the public and certain specialized services. They are also responsible for taking care of, accompanying and supporting vulnerable persons; providing intake, assessment and referrals to clients and their families to required services and promoting health and well-being.

When the CSSS provides the services of a designated centre or those of a hospital centre, the centres are available in the event of an emergency. There are 94 CSSS in Quebec.

Other Services

The ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MESS) [translation: Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity] financially supports the emergency financial assistance recipients who take refuge in shelters for women victims of spousal violence, by providing them with benefits for temporary employment during three consecutive months and a special benefit of $100 per month. In addition, MESS pays recipients a special benefit for moving expenses if the move took place because of spousal violence.

MESS also provides emergency financial assistance to victims of spousal violence without having them assert their rights to support, contrary to the usual procedure. However, the department reserves the right to commence a proceeding of its own accord against the violent spouse. In addition, the department provides these benefits to the victims of spousal violence without having them repay overpayments if the victim can prove that she was unable to express her actual situation because of her spouse's violence against her or towards a dependent child.

Court-Based Responses

Linking between Civil and Criminal Justice Systems in Domestic Violence Cases

One of the objectives of the 2012-2017 government action plan on domestic violence is to promote consistency and complementarity of interventions, particularly in the judicial system. Thus, certain measures are aimed at examining professional practices and information sharing mechanisms that would promote, in youth protection and family cases, the taking into account of various orders and decisions rendered by the courts when they have an impact on the cases.

Tools/Processes to Ensure Safety

The Minister of Justice tabled a bill in the National Assembly that introduced in the Civil Code of Québec article 1974.1, which, since April 1, 2006, allows for the termination of a residential lease if the safety of the victim or of his/her child is threatened, because of the violent behaviour of a spouse or former spouse or because of a sexual aggression.

The Act to amend various legislative provisions as regards the disclosure of confidential information to protect individuals introduces, particularly into legislation pertaining to professional orders and legislation respecting the protection of personal information, provisions to allow the communication of confidential information without the consent of the person concerned in situations where there is reasonable cause to believe that there is an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to a person or group of identifiable persons.

Ministère de la Sécurité Publique:

  • Correctional services: any person handed over to Services correctionnels du Québec [translation: Correctional Services of Québec] is assessed.
  • Tools: LSCMI.
  • Tools for sex offenders: Static-99R, Stable-2007.
  • Police services: the guide to police practices produced by the ministère de la Sécurité publique [translation: Ministry of Public Security] sets out that, during an intervention regarding family violence, police officers must use the checklist found in its appendix to question the victim in order to better assess the risks faced by him or her and his or her loved ones.

Coordinating Mechanisms

The ministère de la Justice [Translation: Ministry of Justice] and the ministère de la Condition féminine [translation: Ministry on the Status of Women] are both responsible for coordinating government actions on spousal, family and sexual violence. As a result, they co-chair deputy ministers’ committees and the comité interministériel de coordination en matière de violence conjugale, familiale et sexuelle [translation: Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on Spousal, Family and Sexual Violence], whose primary mandate is to monitor the implementation of government policy on spousal violence and government approaches to sexual abuse and related action plans. Ten departments are signatories.

As such, the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) [translation: Department of Health and Social Services] contributes to those efforts. For its network, the MSSS has a direct link to responders from the Agences de santé et de services sociaux (ASSS) [translation: Health and Social Services Agencies], which play a multi-sectoral coordinating role and a major role in the organization of sexual and spousal violence services. Considering the responsibilities entrusted to the ASSS and stated both in the policy and approaches, there is an internal support and monitoring mechanism for the network to support this action and focus the efforts of partners in the network towards the target objectives. This mechanism is the Table des répondantes régionales des dossiers violence conjugale et agression sexuelle [translation: roundtable of regional responders to spousal violence and sexual abuse cases]. The roundtable gathers twice a year and its mandate is to support the implementation of government approaches to sexual abuse, the policy on spousal violence and related actions plans, in accordance with the role of the ASSS in organizing services and the mandate of the roundtable of those responsible for spousal violence and sexual abuse cases.

Multi-sectoral cooperating roundtables on spousal violence and sexual abuse, under the responsibility of the ASSS, exist in all regions of Quebec. The role of those roundtables is to gather the various stakeholders that intervene in spousal violence matters (representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Public Security, community organizations, etc.) with the aim of ensuring collaborative interventions and, as a result, the safety of victims.

Given that the multi-sectoral roundtables are under regional responsibility, protocols may vary from one region to another.

Coordinating Committees

Comité interministériel de coordination en matière de violence conjugale, familiale et sexuelle [translation: Interdepartmental coordinating committee on conjugal, family and sexual violence]

The mandate of the committee involves coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Politique d’intervention en matière de violence conjugale: prévenir, dépister, contrer [translation: Intervention policy on spousal violence: prevent, detect, and counter spousal violence] and governmental policy on sexual abuse and related action plans.

The coordination exercised by the committee is aimed at ensuring consistency, avoiding duplication and ensuring an adequate response to client needs. It also serves to continuously assess joint actions. It is achieved by respecting the autonomy of the parties to the committee, their imperatives and the overall rhythm of organizations. The coordination must also ensure that the parties’ actions do not interfere with one another.

Comité interministériel du Plan d’action gouvernemental pour contrer la maltraitance envers les personnes aînées 2010-2015 [translation: Interdepartmental committee on the 2010-2015 Governmental Action Plan to Counter Elder Abuse (Governmental Action Plan)]

Each department or agency (DA) member of the interdepartmental committee on the 2010‑2015 Governmental Action Plan to Counter Elder Abuse is responsible for the Governmental Action Plan measures that it is assigned and consideration of the phenomenon of abuse in its sector’s policies and actions plans. This committee periodically produces status reports on the implementation of government commitments contained in the Governmental Action Plan.

Comité interministériel sur les services de supervision des droits d'accès [translation: Interdepartmental committee on supervised access services]

Makes an assessment of current and future needs for supervised access services with a view to establishing the costs, required financing, operations and the need for regulations in anticipation of the development of a provincial program. On this point, models established elsewhere will be studied. The committee will also recommend possible solutions.

In the course of its work, the committee undertook several actions, namely:

  • development of a guide on organizing services for supervised access;
  • development of a training plan for supervised access stakeholders;
  • development of a code of ethics for organizations that offer the service; and
  • availability of an information pamphlet on supervised access through the centres de santé et de services sociaux [translation: Health and Social Service Centres].

Several other actions are being developed, namely:

  • evaluation of supervised access resources in view of creating a snapshot;
  • development of a training guide and its distribution;
  • development of an incident register and a complaints register; and
  • production of a guide for the agencies to obtain character evidence.

Family Violence Action Plans

The fight against spousal violence is one of the Government of Quebec’s priorities. In fact, the Government adopted in 1995 its intervention policy on spousal violence: Prevent, detect, and counter spousal violence (hereafter, the Policy) and an initial related action plan. The policy lays out the guiding principles for government action on spousal violence and is developed around four priority areas:

  • prevention and promotion for a medium and long-term social vision of the problem of spousal violence;
  • detection of situations of spousal violence in order to intervene with respect to the underlying problem rather than the symptoms;
  • implementation of specific measures for First Nations and Inuit peoples, and adaptation of intervention to the needs of certain clientele: elderly women, women with disabilities, women from cultural communities, abused men and lesbians and gay men; and
  • intervention in psychosocial, policing, judicial and correctional fields.

The policy also determines the essential success factors for interventions, that is, coordination, cooperation, training, research and evaluation.

To update this policy, on December 6, 2012, the government publically released the Action Plan 2012-2017 on Domestic Violence. This action plan contains 135 commitments in two parts: the first stage comprises of 100 measures covering the entire population and the second is specific to Aboriginal people and contains 35 measures explicitly addressed to this population. All commitments aimed at achieving specific objectives and revolve around the pillars of the policy. It also includes measures to ensure the success of actions and implement and monitor them.

Action Plan on Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault is an extremely serious problem as it jeopardizes the life and safety of many people and negatively impacts their development, their health and their well-being. For this reason the Quebec government deemed it important to avail itself of clear inter-sectoral approaches to address this problem in an integrated and comprehensive manner.

Thus, on March 1, 2001, the government publically released the Orientations gouvernementales en matière d'agression sexuelle [translation: government guiding principles on sexual abuse (Orientations)] as well as the first action plan in this regard (2001-2006). The main objective of these approaches is to recognize the socially unacceptable and criminal nature of this form of assault against the person. They also aim at adequately meeting the needs of victims by ensuring their safety and by providing more accessible and better coordinated assistance and protection services in all regions of Quebec. Moreover, they seek to facilitate better supervision of sex offenders to reduce the risks of recidivism.

With a view to updating the Orientations, on April 17, 2008, the government unveiled its 2008-2013 Government Action Plan on Sexual Abuse, which combined the one hundred commitments of the ten departments concerned with the problem of sexual violence.

2010‑2015 Governmental Action Plan to Counter Elder Abuse, Ministère de la Famille et des aînés (MFA) [translation: Ministry of Family and Seniors]

The Governmental Action Plan includes 39 actions from twelve government DA concerned with countering this form of abuse.

The objective of the present action plan is to promote elder well-being and prevent the commission of various forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, negligence and mistreatment against elders.

Key Reports

Data Collection

  • Since the coming into force of the government action plan 2004-2009 on spousal violence, the ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec (MSP) [translation: Québec Ministry of Public Safety] continues to publish its annual statistical data on offences committed in a domestic context. These MSP data come from the uniform crime survey program, which is used by police forces to collate information on criminal events.
  • Furthermore, the ministère de la Justice [translation: Ministry of Justice] and the ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec [translation: Quebec Ministry of Public Security] have agreed on a coding system for spousal violence files. These files bear a locator code called "statistical code A". Criminal and penal prosecutors must write the code on the information. When the file is opened electronically, the staff at the Registry for the Criminal Division get the code and write it visibly on the file cover. Then, Code A appears on several judicial forms, including the probation order, conditional sentence order and warrant of committal. It makes it possible to retrieve files in which a crime was committed in the context of spousal violence. Although this retrieval system is basic, it allows various workers, including those from correctional services, to quickly retrieve spousal violence files.
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