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

Annex 4: Family violence responses by jurisdiction - Yukon

Legislative Responses

Family/Domestic Violence Legislation

The Family Violence Prevention Act (FVPA) is legislation that offers provision for three protective court orders:

  • Emergency Intervention Orders (EIOs);
  • Victim’s Assistance Orders (VAOs); and
  • Warrants of Entry.

The Yukon Victims of Crime Act became law in the Yukon in April 2011. A Victims’ Bill of Rights is an important part of this new law.Under the Act, a victim is someone who, as a result of an act or omission that forms the basis of an offence, suffers bodily or mental injury, emotional trauma, economic loss or deprivation of property. An individual can be considered a victim even if no charge has been laid or the accused has not been convicted. Family members can also be considered victims.

The Victims’ Bill of Rights in the Victims of Crime Act includes these rights:

  • the right to information about the justice system;
  • the right to express their views;
  • the right to have their property returned when it is no longer needed as evidence; and
  • the right to have their needs considered when victim programs and services are developed.

The Victims’ Bill of Rights also includes three basic rights:

  • Victims have the right to be treated with courtesy, caring and respect;
  • Victims have the right to privacy; and
  • Victims have the right to expect that the justice system will do what it can to reduce their inconvenience and protect them from intimidation and retaliation.

Child Protection Provisions Related to Family Violence

The Child and Family Services Act, which came into force April 30, 2010, is based on guiding principles including: all decisions or actions should be in the best interest of the child; protection of children; maintaining cultural identity; family has primary responsibility, involving extended family members and; involving First Nation early in the process. The new Act includes a mandatory reporting requirement for all Yukon residents who suspect child abuse. It also includes changes in how Family and Children’s Services can support families and extended families in caring for their children. Any history of family violence or child maltreatment perpetrated by a prospective care provider, and the effect on the child of any past experiences of family violence or maltreatment are specific factors in determining the best interest of the child (s. 4(1)). Also, emotional harm is listed as a reason for protective intervention and the definition of emotional harm includes: “living in families where domestic violence is an issue.”

Police

Policies

  • RCMP National Policy – Violence in Relationships Policy (see Annex on Canada).
  • RCMP “M” Division Violence in Relationships Policy.
  • Yukon Family Violence Prevention Act.
  • Yukon Family Violence Manual.

Protocols

Specialized Response Unit (SRU)

The SRU is a four member RCMP “M” Division unit. The primary responsibility is to provide guidance and assistance to general duty members of "M" Division in the investigation of violence in relationships (VIR); sexual assaults; child abuse; and/or elder abuse.

The RCMP are members of the following relevant protocols or agreements:

  • The Yukon Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court Protocols and Letters of Understanding (2004) (see below).
  • The Inter-Agency Agreement for the Investigation of Child Abuse (1998) (see below).

Crown

Policies

Federal Prosecution Service Deskbook, Chapter 28 Spousal Violence Policy

This policy relates to spousal violence and is intended to reflect the special circumstances of Canada’s three territories. In small northern communities options available to the victims of spousal violence may be limited, for example:

  1. the victim may not have access to the same types of support often found in southern Canada, such as emergency shelters or counselling services;
  2. the victim may face pressure in the community not to report the crime; and
  3. absolute prohibitions on contact with the alleged abuser may be unrealistic in a small isolated community.

The policy places primary responsibility for decision-making with the police and Crown counsel rather than with complainants. At all stages of the criminal process, Crown counsel shall engage in appropriate consultation with the police and the complainant to ensure that the complainant is protected, informed and supported.

The policy seeks to guide Crown counsel’s discretion, not remove it. Crown counsel must consider and apply other Deskbook policies, including the “Decision to Prosecute” (Chapter 16) and “Victims of Crime” (Chapter 29) policy while bearing in mind the strong public interest in the denunciation and deterrence of spousal violence.

The policy has specific considerations on bail (28.4). Crown counsel should require from police sufficient information to determine whether releasing the alleged offender from custody would be an unreasonable risk to the safety of the complainant. In some instances if the offender is not detained, the complainant and her children will be forced to leave the family home. Where the court is satisfied that the offender could be released, some restrictions will ordinarily be necessary both to ensure the security of the complainant and preserve the integrity of the prosecution. The policy sets out suggested restrictions. Where the accused is released from custody, reasonable efforts should be made to provide a copy of the release terms to the complainant as soon as practicable.

Chapter 30 of the PPSC Deskbook deals with Parental Child Abduction. The intent of the guidelines is to assist in the uniform application of ss. 282 and 283 of the Criminal Code. They are directed to police and Crown counsel to advise when and how charges may be laid.

Protocols

The prosecution service are members of the following relevant protocols or agreements:

  • The Yukon Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court Protocols and Letters of Understanding (2004) (see below).
  • The Inter-Agency Agreement for the Investigation of Child Abuse (1998) (see below).

Child Protection

Protocols

Inter-Agency Agreement for the Investigation of Child Abuse (1998)

The signatories are: Health and Social Services, Justice Canada (who represented the Public Prosecution in 1998), Department of Justice, Yukon, Department of Education, Yukon and RCMP.

The guiding principle: successful investigations require cooperation. The protocol covers all stages of child abuse investigation including: receiving reports; interview process; laying of charges; court process; treatment options and; roles and responsibilities of the RCMP, Family and Children’s Services and the Crown.

Protocol Agreement between the Department of Education, Health and Social Services and Justice: Regarding Interdepartmental Information Exchange of Children and Their Families (1993)

Is an agreement between government departments to ensure the appropriate and timely exchange of information between departments while balancing the right to privacy and confidentiality to citizens. The protocol lays out department’s responsibilities in attempting to get verbal/written agreement prior to sharing information, and lays out the procedure for resolving conflicts related to information sharing.

Protocol Agreements regarding child protection with three individual Yukon First Nation’s

The protocols were created with intent to enhance service delivery. The principles are similar to the Child and Family Services Act and include consideration of the best interest of the child, protection, maintenance of cultural identity and inclusion of First Nation in decision making. The protocols cover investigation, the notification of the First Nations and the process for placement of children.

Child protection services are also members of the Yukon Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court Protocols and Letters of Understanding (2004) (see below).

Service-Based Responses

Victim Services

Victim Services - Yukon Department of Justice
  • The victim services are a government run, community based service. They will see victims and secondary victims of any crime. They accept referrals from all sources, though work closely with the RCMP. Victim services provide support whether or not a crime has been reported and throughout all stages of the legal process. Victim services are members of the Domestic Violence Treatment Court.
Victim Assistance Volunteers (VAV)
  • VAVs are a police-based service offering immediate, after-hours and emergency support to victims of crime.
Crown Witness Coordinators (CWC) – Public Prosecution Service Canada

The CWC program is unique to Canada’s three northern territories – Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. CWCs typically liaise and share information with Crown prosecutors, locate victims and witnesses involved in court cases, prepare victims and witnesses for court, support and accompany victims and witnesses during their court process and, when appropriate, refer them to supportive community services.

Shelters

Yukon has three shelters for women and their children seeking safety. One in the main centre of Whitehorse and two in the smaller communities of Dawson City and Watson Lake. Shelters in Whitehorse and Watson Lake include second stage apartments for women and their children seeking longer term secure housing.

Abusive Partner Programs

Spousal Abuse Program, Yukon Department of Justice

The Spousal Abuse Program provides individual and group treatment to persons who have been or are abusive in their intimate relationship. They follow the Respectful Relationship program. Group treatment is the preferred treatment and groups run regularly for ten-week periods throughout the year. The program accepts court mandated clients.

Court-Based Responses

Domestic Violence Court

Yukon Domestic Violence Treatment Option (DVTO)

The Domestic Violence Treatment Court was developed in 2000. It is a therapeutic alternative that helps motivate offenders to take responsibility for the violent behaviour early in the justice system process and to understand and ‘unlearn’ this behaviour. At the same time, it uses the authority of judges to monitor the behaviour of offenders in order to maximize the safety of victims. The DVTO Court has a specialized caseload and is handled by dedicated judges and key partners such as RCMP, Public Prosecution Service of Canada, Family and Children Services, Probation and Victim Services. The goals of the court are as follows:

  • encourage more disclosures of domestic violence;
  • provide for early intervention;
  • provide a non-adversarial, therapeutic court-based alternative to formal criminal court as a means of responding to domestic violence;
  • reduce the high collapse rate for domestic violence charges;
  • hold offenders accountable in a meaningful way;
  • provide a therapeutic sentencing option to offenders under the close supervision of the court and treatment professionals;
  • encourage early acceptance of responsibility and early guilty pleas by perpetrators of domestic violence; and
  • provide protection, information and support for victims.

Signatories are: Health and Social Services, Justice Canada (who represented the Public Prosecution in 1998), Department of Justice, Yukon, Department of Education, Yukon and RCMP.

Coordinating Mechanisms

Coordinating Committees

Framework Committee on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

In response to Sharing common Ground: Review of Yukon’s Police Force, an interagency working group was created, including representatives from Justice, First Nations, women’s organizations, RCMP, medical professionals and PPSC to develop a comprehensive framework for responding to domestic violence and sexualized assault.

Family Violence Action Plans

Victim’s of Crime Strategy

The Victims of Crime Strategy is a framework document that will guide Government of Yukon programs and services for victims of crime, and assist in furthering work with partners to address the needs of victims of crime. The strategy explores ways to enhance programming and services, paying special attention to addressing violence against women. It will help examine legislative options that will provide greater rights for victims.

Key Reports

Date modified: