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

Annex 4: Family violence responses by jurisdiction - Manitoba

Legislative Responses

Family/Domestic Violence Legislation

The Domestic Violence and Stalking Act provides for civil orders of protection for victims of domestic violence or stalking. The Act creates two types of orders; protection orders which are granted by judicial justices of the peace on a without notice basis to address urgent situations and prevention orders which are granted by Court of Queen’s Bench judges. Domestic violence is defined as certain behaviours (sub-section 2(1.1)) that occur between people in certain types of relationships (sub-section 2(1)).

Family Law Provisions Related to Family Violence

The Family Maintenance Act provides for a variety of family law relief including child custody and access, child support, spousal and common-law partner support, child status, recalculation and support enforcement. Domestic violence is defined with reference to The Domestic Violence and Stalking Act. In determining the best interests of a child for the purposes of a child custody or access order or variation of same, the court must consider a range of best interests criteria including the impact on the child of any domestic violence (sub-section 39(2.1)(c)).

If a person needs locate information in order to bring an application for support or custody or to enforce a support or custody order, they may apply to court for an order that a person, the government or an agency of government disclose records of the other person’s whereabouts. Before giving information to the applicant, the court must assess the risk of domestic violence or stalking to the person whose whereabouts is to be disclosed (sub-section 49(1.2)).

The Child Custody Enforcement Act also provides that a person who needs address information about another in order to seek to enforce a custody order may apply to the court for an order that any person or public body disclose that address information to the court. Before giving information to the applicant the court must assess the risk of domestic violence or stalking to the person whose address is to be disclosed (sub-section 13(2.1)).

The Enforcement of Canadian Judgments Act deems a Canadian civil protection order to be an order of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench that may be enforced as such, whether or not it is registered with the court (section 10). A Canadian civil protection order is enforceable by a law enforcement agency (section 11) and an agency, its employees and agents are immune from any actions or proceedings for anything done in good faith to enforce a Canadian civil protection order (section 13).

The Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act provides that a subject if over age 18, or if under 18, the subject’s parent, guardian or child protection agency (sub-section 3(1)), may apply to a judicial justice of the peace for a protection order without notice to the respondent (sub-section 3(2)).

The Adult Abuse Registry Act established an adult abuse registry for the entry of names of persons who abuse or neglect vulnerable adults protected under The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act or under other Acts specified by Regulation. Other recent amendments to The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act have:

  • Created a specific offence of abusing or neglecting a vulnerable person (paragraph 164(1)(a)).
  • Placed a duty to protect vulnerable persons from abuse or neglect, on service providers, substitute decision makers and committees (section 20.2).
  • Placed a duty on everyone to report abuse or neglect of a vulnerable person (sub-section 21(1)).
  • Increased penalties for offences under the Act to a fine of up to $50,000 or up to 24 months’ imprisonment or both (sub-section 164(2)).

The Adult Abuse Registry Act and the related amendments came into force January 15, 2013.

Child Protection Provisions Related to Family Violence

The Child and Family Services Act addresses child protection. Paragraph 17(2)(e) provides that a child is in need of protection where the child is “is likely to suffer harm or injury due to the behaviour, condition, domestic environment or associations of the child or of a person having care, custody, control or charge of the child”. The following additional remedies may relate to family violence:

  • An agency with reasonable grounds to believe a person has or is likely to subject a child to abuse may apply for an order that the person cease to reside with the child and/or refrain from contact or association with the child (section 20);
  • Interference with a child in care is a summary conviction offence punishable by up to $50,000 fine or 24 months in jail or both (section 52); and,
  • A person with lawful care and control of a child may on application seek an order that another person not molest, harass or annoy the child and may require that person to enter into a recognizance or post a bond to ensure compliance (section 80(1)).

Police

Policies

Relevant policies (spousal/intimate partner violence/child witnesses/child abuse):

  • RCMP “D” Division Policy
  • Winnipeg Police Service Domestic Violence Policy
  • Brandon Police Service Domestic Violence Policy

Crown

Policies

Updated Domestic Violence Policy and Directives (pending review of the Minister): Covers domestic violence prosecutions in detail, bail considerations, contact with Victim Services re: informing complainants, dealing with child witnesses, diversion, dealing with uncooperative witnesses (KGB/KHAN/Khelawon applications).

Regular contact with Winnipeg Police Service Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Units.

Share computer files with Victim Services and Child Victim Services for immediate information relating to contact, safety planning and position.

Child Abuse Policy and Directives (currently under revision to incorporate changes resulting from Bill C-10): Comprehensive outline of requirements necessary for prosecuting child abuse cases including relevant case law, Criminal Code sections, contact information for Child Victim Services and policy regarding mandatory minimums.

Close working relationship with Winnipeg Police Child Abuse Unit and file sharing with Manitoba Justice Victim Services, Child Victim Support Services programs.

Child Protection

Policies

Manitoba Justice Victim Services:

When an assault against a child has occurred, the victim services workers (VSW) will contact Child and Family Services (CFS) and inform an intake worker. Follow-up calls are also made to CFS if the worker believes that the child may be at risk or has witnessed abuse. Examples of when to contact CFS are outlined below:

  • domestic violence incidents involving young (teenage) parents;
  • matters where children have been assaulted/threatened during the incident;
  • children have witnessed an incident;
  • WPS/RCMP note neglect factors (ex: filth, lack of food, substandard housing conditions);
  • CVSW is aware that a CFS file already exists;
  • children made the call to 911;
  • past domestic charges relating to the parties;
  • past domestic charges not related to current partner;
  • lengthy violent criminal record including gang connections;
  • past sexual abuse charges;
  • victim’s capacity to protect children is compromised (ex: seeking reconciliation with violent offender);
  • complainant or offender have mental health concerns;
  • alcohol/substance abuse issues for parents of babies/toddlers;
  • pregnant women using alcohol/illegal substances; and
  • update agency on variations/removal of court orders.

Service-Based Responses

Victim Services

Manitoba Justice’s Domestic Violence Support Service: Domestic Violence Support Service helps victims of domestic violence when criminal charges have been laid, or may be laid against their partners. Based on 2005 amendments to the Domestic Violence and Stalking Act, Victim Services provides training to community services agencies so that they may become designated to provide assistance to protection order applicants. The program provides support and information to victims of domestic violence by:

  • providing information about the criminal charges and the court process;
  • explaining the roles of those involved in the criminal justice system;
  • discussing safety planning;
  • explaining how to get protective relief orders;
  • offering on-going emotional support and short-term counselling;
  • explaining the cycle of violence and how it can be broken;
  • offering support throughout the court process;
  • preparing victims and going to court with them, when possible;
  • advising Crown attorneys of concerns that victims may have about court cases; and
  • providing information and referrals to community resources, as needed.

The program also provides victims with information about the Cellphone Emergency Limited Link-up program (CELL).

See attached links and information:

Manitoba Justice’s Child Victim Support Service (CVSS): CVSS helps victims and witnesses of abuse (under 18 years of age), adult survivors of sexual abuse, and other vulnerable victims (on a case by case basis) who are involved in the criminal court process. CVSS helps victims and witnesses by:

  • explaining the criminal court process and procedures;
  • preparing them for court (including a visit to the courtroom to help familiarize them with their surroundings and make them feel more comfortable);
  • identifying special needs and the potential for aids to help with testimony;
  • attending court with witnesses, when possible;
  • scheduling meetings with Crown attorneys to discuss any special issues;
  • arranging short-term counselling;
  • providing emotional support;
  • referring them to community resources such as therapists or treatment programs; and
  • providing information and guidance on how to prepare Victim Impact Statements.

The Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) plans and develops community programs to help stop domestic violence. Domestic violence is most often directed towards women by their partners. The program supports special services for abused women and their children and for men living with domestic violence.

There are 32 agencies across Manitoba that provide help for people affected by domestic violence:

  • 10 women’s shelters – emergency shelter and counselling for women and children who are victims of domestic violence (also, find accommodations for men who need a safe place);
  • provincial toll free crisis – automatically links you with the nearest shelter that will provide safety;
  • 9 women’s resource centers – provide information and referral, individual counselling, outreach and support groups for women;
  • residential second-stage housing programs – offer protective, affordable, long-term housing for women who leave an abusive relationship, but need more than just physical protection;
  • urban support programs – provide individual counselling, open and closed support groups, longer term counselling, training for other service providers and public education;
  • specialized programs – include supervised access services for parents and their children and couples counselling; and
  • services that respect cultural needs are also available for Aboriginal, Francophone and immigrant women and children.

See attached links:

Supervised Access

The Winnipeg Children’s Access Agency and the Brandon Access Exchange Service are non-profit organizations that assist with the pick-up and drop-off of children for access as well as access supervision. These agencies are funded in part by Manitoba Family Services and Labour.

Parent Education/Information

The Family Conciliation Office of Manitoba Family Services and Labour offers a parent education program called For the Sake of the Children, to help parents experiencing separation or divorce to understand what they are going through both legally and emotionally and to assist them in understanding and meeting their children’s needs. Court rules make program attendance mandatory (with some specified exceptions) for Manitobans who are requesting or responding to requests for orders of child custody, child access or private guardianship. There are two separate programs, based on the level of conflict the parents are experiencing.

Child Education/Information

Caught in the Middle is a group program offered by the Family Conciliation Office of Manitoba Family Services and Labour. It is for children aged eight to 13 whose parents are in conflict over separation and divorce issues. It is not focussed on family violence.

Court-Based Responses

Domestic Violence Court

The Domestic Violence Unit consists of 20 prosecutors, two Supervisors and a Child Exploitation Coordinator. Courtrooms dedicated to domestic violence cases (trials/preliminary hearings), bail hearings and Court of Queen’s Bench matters are located in Winnipeg.

All matters are heard – from common assault to homicide

File Ownership – the same Crown deals with the case from the time of arrest until conclusion. The Crown also assumes conduct of any future files relating to same accused and/or complainant.

Tools/Processes to Ensure Safety

Checklists

Checklist for bail court setting out appropriate conditions if offender released.

Computer program (Prism) and laptops in court provide instant access to file notes, addresses, complainant contact with Victim Services and contact from Probation and Probation High Risk Units.

Manitoba Justice’s Victim Services – Professional assessment by social workers.

Manitoba Justice’s Correctional Services – Offender Risk Assessment Management System – Primary Risk Assessment (ORAMSPRA).

Screening for Family Violence

Mediators and comprehensive co-mediators with the Family Conciliation Office of Manitoba Family Services and Labour use the Tolman Screening Model as their standard screening tool used at intake. For comprehensive co-mediation, further questions are asked at the initial individual meeting and the lawyer and social worker confer on whether they can proceed before any joint meetings are scheduled. The screening tool is not shared with other services/agencies or the court.

Coordinating Mechanisms

Coordinating Committees

Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC): Announced in June 2010, the DVDRC reviews homicide cases involving domestic violence to see what can be learned from them and to seek ways to prevent similar deaths from occurring in the future.

The Manitoba DVDRC reports to the Attorney General and includes representatives from Manitoba Justice Victims’ Services, Prosecution Services and Probation along with the Family Violence Prevention program, Manitoba Status of Women, Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Winnipeg Police Service, RCMP and RESOLVE, which is a regional family violence research network.

The reviews take a fresh and detailed look at selected cases where the criminal justice process is completely over, looking for trends, risk factors and patterns. The committee explores the history, circumstances and conduct of perpetrators, victims and their families. Community and systemic responses are examined to identify possible gaps and points of intervention that might help others avoid similar fates. Extensive work has gone into ensuring the committee and its working group will respect the privacy rights of victims and avoid further traumatizing surviving family members.

The committee will make recommendations to the Minister of Justice for effective domestic violence intervention and prevention strategies. An executive summary of Manitoba’s 2011- 2012 report can be found at the following link: http://www.gov.mb.ca/justice/publications/pdf/annualreport_dvdrc_2011-2012.pdf

Family Violence Action Plans.

Moving On – Independence After Domestic Violence: On November 1, 2011, the Government of Manitoba announced the development of a multi-year domestic violence strategy called Moving On – Independence After Domestic Violence, which comprises:

  • Safe Pet – a leading-edge shelter program for family pets while survivors transition from abusive situations, based on findings that people don’t feel comfortable leaving a relationship if a pet is left behind and that children experience further trauma when a pet is left at risk in the home;
  • Moving On and Managing Your Money – Canada’s first comprehensive guide and website to help survivors avoid common money problems and help achieve independence;
  • evening and weekend counselling security upgrades – the installation of closed circuit TV monitoring and digital video recording at women’s resource centres for safer off-hours counselling programs ($26,500);
  • one victim, one support worker – for continuity of supports, a counsellor will be designated to help victims before or after charges are laid by co-ordinating the work of the Domestic Violence Intervention Unit and the Domestic Violence Support Service in Manitoba Justice; and
  • early lease termination – will now be available to victims of domestic violence or stalking so they can get out of an abusive home or an at-risk location with just one month’s or one rental period’s notice, rather than at the end of the lease, recognizing that victims might otherwise postpone leaving their home because of lease obligations.

Safer Today, Stronger Tomorrow: The province also launched a public consultation in January 2012 for a renewal of its comprehensive multi-year domestic violence strategy called Safer Today, Stronger Tomorrow. The strategy will also contain a women’s shelter and residential program modernization action plan. To advise on action plan priorities, the province is creating a task force comprised of shelter expertise from outside the province, representatives from Manitoba Housing, the Family Violence Prevention Program and the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council, which will review facility and program needs with agencies.

Public Awareness Strategies: Two public awareness strategies were also launched in November 2011 as part of Domestic Violence Prevention Month. One was a multi-media message that “Without help, abuse only gets worse”. The other was a new radio feature by Manitoba’s consortium of domestic violence service providers on the impact of domestic violence on family members.

On November 5, 2012, the province launched a new public awareness campaign and domestic violence strategy as part of domestic violence prevention month. The advertising campaign includes videos featuring Blue Bomber players Glenn January, Chris Cvetkovic, Andre Douglas, Cory Watson and Jason Vega. The messages remind Manitobans to be more than a bystander and help break the silence on domestic violence that affects women, children and families.

The new strategy has three themes: supports for victims and families, interventions for people with abusive behaviour, and prevention, awareness and training. Multi-year strategy items include:

  • investing over $1 million in capital improvements to shelters and other family violence facilities owned by the province;
  • developing supports for agencies and individuals to address the needs of women who use multiple provincially funded shelters frequently and for extended periods of time;
  • working with Aboriginal communities on specific strategies to address domestic violence;
  • providing ongoing, stable funding for A Woman’s Place to employ a lawyer to assist women affected by domestic violence with their legal matters;
  • offering supports to victims dealing with abuse by an immediate or extended family member;
  • working with provincially funded organizations to ensure recruitment and retention of qualified staff;
  • providing interpreters to assist those applying for protection orders;
  • piloting a family court support worker program through Victim Services that will offer support for victims of domestic violence who are also involved in a family court proceeding;
  • exploring legislative options to protect victims from harassment by in-custody offenders;
  • appointing Marlene Bertrand to lead the implementation of the strategy with a team of community and government representatives;
  • continuing to engage men and boys as allies in preventing violence against women; and
  • continuing to spend over $15 million annually on programs to help support victims of domestic violence and their children.

Information on the strategy and the videos supporting the Break the Silence campaign are available at www.manitoba.ca/stoptheviolence and on Twitter @MBGov and help #StopTheViolence.

Date modified: