Review of Provincial and Territorial Domestic Violence Legislation and Implementation Strategies




This section describes key training issues in relation to three topics:

  • broad orientation or philosophy of training;
  • topics covered and materials used; and,
  • delivery.

4.1  Orientation / philosophy

Two broad-scale orientations in training are described below.

  • Training is an on-going function rather than a one-time process.  Although three of the five jurisdictions have had only approximately a year of operation, there is already a general appreciation that training will be an ongoing rather than a one-time process.  This is in part because of staff turnover - especially within RCMP detachments, but also in all roles - with a resultant loss of teamwork potential unless workers are constantly being trained.  The need for ongoing training is also because new needs, orientations and issues are emerging.  For example, victims in most jurisdictions have made little use of the Victim Assistance Order, so subsequent training has or will give this order more focus.  Amendments to the Act, such as in PEI, have required training or at least information updates.  New training may focus on developing more consensus around such issues as what constitutes an emergency.
  • Training is as much about assessing and developing capacity as it is about providing information.  This theme has already been touched on above in Section 2 (Consultation Process).  However, it is becoming more of a focus in training as jurisdictions respond to the reality of staff turnover, a more comprehensive awareness of the range of players involved, and the need to constantly reinforce partner relations and teamwork between players (see also the previous point).  This broader orientation is being systematically developed in Saskatchewan in a comprehensive 445 page training manual that will be completed at the end of October, 2000.  It will emphasize a multi-disciplinary approach and complementary resources for all parties involved.  The Saskatchewan contact stated that workshops in each community will explore in a multi-disciplinary group such issues as:
    • the resources available in the community;
    • the resources required by designated workers (i.e., workers officially designated to help a victim initiate an application) in order to help the victim; and,
    • in regard to Native communities, what they might need to help the designated worker in his/her process of assisting an Aboriginal victim.

This developmental approach in no way precludes the presentation of information about the Act, family violence and individual roles, rather it is the base on which this information is built.

4.2  Topics covered and materials used

Appendix 6 contains a sample of readily available training materials from three of the jurisdictions.  As noted in the previous section, at the end of October of this year, Saskatchewan will have completed a training manual that will be an additional comprehensive resource.

A review of the available materials and discussions with jurisdictional contacts indicate that a number of topics have been emphasized.  These are grouped below under “Conceptual points” and “Information about the act, regulations and procedures”.

Conceptual points
  • the need for an approach based on teamwork between multi-disciplinary partners (see discussion in Section 3.1);
  • domestic violence legislation is one tool among many; it is essential to know when its use is appropriate or not appropriate
    • this involves an understanding of other orders that may be available and the type of situations in which they may be more appropriate or effective than using an emergency order or victim assistance order;
    • it also involves risk assessment and an understanding of the victim’s safety needs (see discussion in Section 3.3).
  • the dynamics of domestic violence
    • both the PEI and Yukon training documents contain useful information on domestic violence (Appendix A.6).  The PEI materials also include the text of a presentation called “Family Violence:  The Issues” which explores stages in leaving an abusive relationship and suggests particular provisions of an order that could be important to a victim at a particular stage;
    • the main thrust of this type of material is to build understanding of and compassion for the victim, who can often display confusion, denial, anger and apparent contradictory behaviours towards those who are trying to assist her.  In a monitoring study in PEI, some victims complained of a lack of police compassion; the author recommended the development of a quality assurance program to address this type of response.  (PEI, 1998, pp.20, 27);
  • protection of victim is a paramount consideration
    • this has been discussed in regard to safety planning in Section 3.3 above.  The vulnerability of victims in remote communities is of course highly relevant in Nunavut.  Other issues such as the economic dependence of the victim on the respondent may also affect whether a no-contact order is complied with by the victim (Saskatchewan, 1998, p.26).
Information about the act, regulations and procedures
  • clause-by-clause analysis of the Act and Regulations;
  • step-by-step discussion of procedures for each type of worker, and forms that need to be completed;
  • scenarios.

Examples of these materials are listed in Appendix A.6.  The Yukon section contains an annotated Act, whereas the PEI and Manitoba materials weave the discussion of the Act into a discussion of procedures and forms.

Scenarios (see examples in PEI and Yukon materials) are a critical part of training.  They require participants to consider whether it is appropriate to pursue an order under the domestic violence legislation, what factors are relevant for safety planning, what provisions may be appropriate if pursuing an order, whether they have authority, and what forms would be completed.  They can be used either in role playing formats or small group discussions.

The Yukon contact commented that every time a scenario was discussed in a different group or community, different orders or provisions resulted.  This was not only a comment about inconsistency, i.e., that discussion needs to take place to reach common understandings about appropriate responses.  It was also emphasizing that in any given community the constellation of services, personnel or resources can be different and require different solutions.

In Saskatchewan some participants felt that first-time training tended to emphasize the emergency order at the expense of the victim assistance order or warrant of entry (Saskatchewan, 1998, p.2).  This may be one factor in the small number of VAOs and negligible use of the warrant of entry, which could be addressed through training.

4.3  Delivery of training sessions

Several points were emphasized by jurisdictional contacts when discussing the delivery of training:

Delivery by a team

In Saskatchewan, the team for training police officers in 1995 consisted of a police officer and a family violence specialist.  The purpose of a team approach is to facilitate improved understanding and cooperation between community and police.  In PEI police training teams consisted of a police/RCMP officer, Victim Services staff and Transition House Outreach workers.  Ongoing training in the Yukon will consist of an RCMP member and a Victim Services worker.

“Train the trainers” model

A “train the trainers” model has been used for police/RCMP officers in Saskatchewan, PEI and Alberta to expand the knowledge base and conserve resources.  This format has been used for other types of workers besides police in some jurisdictions.  In its revised training format that is about to be implemented, Saskatchewan will be using a “train the trainers” model (again with an RCMP and community worker as a team) which will ultimately deliver community-based training for all relevant workers in a multi-disciplinary workshop.

The use of a “train the trainers” model in Nunavut would depend on whether community trainers could be identified with suitable standing in the community, whether they had the requisite skills to be trainers (as opposed to workers), and whether they would be remaining in their community for a reasonable period of time.

Range of participants in training sessions

Depending on jurisdictions, training has been done with some or all of the following types of participant, either together or as distinct audiences:  police/RCMP officers, military police (Alberta), victim service workers, JOPs, court registry staff, transition house workers, prosecutors, correctional services staff, child welfare staff, community agencies, judiciary, private bar, and sheriffs.

Location and length of training

Training-the-trainer sessions – where applicable – have generally been held centrally.  In Alberta they have taken 2 days.  In Saskatchewan the new training-the-trainer sessions will be 3 days.

Training of JOPs has usually consisted of 2 day sessions in 1 or 2 centres.  Training of police by the newly-trained trainers has been done in each region of a given jurisdiction in a one-day session.  Other specialized audiences have also required one-day sessions.


As noted above, there is an appreciation that ongoing information sessions or formal training will be required.  For example, since their pre-proclamation training, Alberta has been holding a series of “technical meetings” in regions with a multi-disciplinary audience of police/RCMP, court workers, lawyers/legal aid, JOPs, victim services workers and community agencies.  These meetings review the experience of participants with the Act and troubleshoot issues identified, as well as provide information on the legislation, dynamics of domestic violence, how to request orders, how to do risk assessments, and how to deal with breaches.

Videotapes as resources

Several jurisdictions have made videos of training services as supplementary resources.  Although they should not be seen as  a replacement for training, they may be useful for updating RCMP officers or community members, or as a transitional training device if there is a loss of a key community member

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