Review of Provincial and Territorial Domestic Violence Legislation and Implementation Strategies

PART 1: A REVIEW OF KEY IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES

2. CONSULTATION PROCESS

The term consultation as used here refers to consultation processes prior to proclamation of the act. There have been several purposes of consultation in the jurisdictions:

  • assessing the need for legislation and gaps in the response to domestic violence that it could fill;
  • assessing the capacity and willingness of communities to be effective partners in implementing the legislation; and
  • eliciting concerns or responses about specific features of the proposed legislation.

In each of the jurisdictions there was an advisory committee and/or working group established to guide the development of the legislation. However, the nature of the consultation process and breadth of groups consulted varied.

Saskatchewan held meetings with 62 agencies involved in responding to domestic violence, including, for example, police, crisis intervention services, family services, Aboriginal service delivery agencies, tribal councils, safe shelters, sexual assault centres, hospitals, inter-church networks and seniors’ abuse groups (Saskatchewan 1996, p.3).[2] The Yukon held meetings for 2-2.5 hours with small groups (4-15 persons) in eight communities, including RCMP, clergy, shelter workers, Victim Services workers, probation, Yukon College, band workers and social workers (Appendix A.5, Consultation Stats). In Whitehorse they sent out a discussion package to service providers, which asked for responses on specific questions (Appendix A.5, The Family Violence Protection Act – “Providing Options for Victims”). Alberta sent a discussion paper to 3,000 parties and received 120 submissions (63% from organizations, the rest from individuals).

Using discussion papers can be a useful method of eliciting feedback, but there are two potential drawbacks to this approach in the Nunavut context. First, it is most useful where there are a large number of formal organizations to respond to this method, which is less the case in Nunavut than in Alberta. Secondly, in order to assess the capacity and willingness of communities to be effective partners, it is necessary for a working group to have a presence in the community during the consultation stage. Many of the concerns that Saskatchewan received during its consultation stage related to how victim safety could be ensured in rural or remote communities where there was no immediate police presence and/or a lack of support services. In Nunavut the concerns would have to be assessed and addressed on a community by community basis.

As will be noted in Section 3, an effective infrastructure to support victims is essential to the successful implementation of domestic violence legislation. The consultation process acts not only as feedback about the legislation, but also can be the first step to help build capacity within communities.

One potential outcome of the consultation process would be to revise proposed legislation based on feedback, then proceed with legislation. Another outcome might be to delay the legislation and embark on a longer term capacity-building process to identify individuals and/or to develop victim services groups that could support the legislation and victim requirements in each community.

In summary:

  • consultation is not just for feedback about details of the legislation;
  • it is about community capacity; and
  • it may lead to a longer developmental process that delays legislation, but builds the infrastructure necessary to support victims under the Act.

[2] “Saskatchewan (1996)” will be used in this report to refer to Prairie Research Associates, Inc., Review of the Saskatchewan Victims of Domestic Violence Act, Ottawa: Research and Statistics Division, Department of Justice Canada; WD 1996-6e,1996.

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