Government Action Against Violence

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The Alberta government is funding three new community-based projects that seek to intervene in domestic violence after Calgary saw 9 domestic homicides last year – a number way above the national average.

Homefront, a Calgary agency that works with justice, police and social service officials to reduce domestic violence, will get $1.2 million for a project aimed at getting offenders into counseling, addiction and mental health treatment. The project aims to target high risk domestic offenders and provide them with some intensive monitoring and supervision in order to discourage re-offence.

The Ermineskin Women’s Shelter Society is spending $489,000 to set up a specialized team to support at-risk families on the reserves of Hobbema, about 70 kilometres south of Edmonton, which have been plagued by family violence.

The Calgary Counselling Centre will receive $750,000 to treat couples where one partner has a substance abuse problem as substance abuse often leads to domestic violence.

But is this recent financial support enough?

An increasing human resources crisis is leaving our most vulnerable citizens without proper assistance. Organizations–such as women’s shelters,childrens’ and seniors’ services,crisis centers and counselling services– are meant to provide caring, attentive and unique support. Their work plays a vital role in the provincial government’s plan to “improve Albertans’ quality of life, and provide safe and secure communities”.

For more information on domestic abuse in Alberta, including resources, statistics, and program information, check out the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters website.

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In Ontario, new legislation that specifically outlines how Ontario employers must prevent violence and harassment against their employees goes into effect next week. The legislation was spurred by the 2005 murder of a Windsor, Ont., nurse by her ex-boyfriend at the hospital where she worked.

With the new legislation, employers are given specific requirements to protect their employees from violence including:

  • Disclose an employee’s history of violence to his or her co-workers.
  • Prepare to protect employees from domestic violence in the workplace.
  • Allow employees to refuse work if they feel harassed or endangered by a co-worker
  • Carry out risk assessment and identify risks to employees like working alone, handling cash, or dealing directly with customers
  • Put in controls and train employees to limit identified risks

The Ministry of Labour can prosecute an employer for failing to show it took all reasonable precautions to avoid a risk or situation involving violence or harassement.

How successful is this legislation going to be? In many service positions, it seems as though employers feel they are paying their (female) staff to accept harassment (and rarely recognize it as such). What are the chances of these common place occurrences will change? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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