PC government to support private bill declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic | CBC News

Ontario will support an opposition bill to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic in the province, Government House Leader Paul Calandra said Wednesday, reversing an earlier rejection of the idea.

Calandra said the Progressive Conservative government will ask the justice committee to thoroughly examine intimate partner violence and return with recommendations.

The move came after the New Democrats tabled a bill that simply declares intimate partner violence an epidemic. The private members’ bill was set for second reading Wednesday night, but could easily be defeated by the majority Progressive Conservative government. 

But that bill will not be defeated, Calandra said in response to Official Opposition Leader Marit Stiles’ question in the legislature about whether the bill would be supported.

“Indeed, the government and this caucus will be supporting the private member’s bill that comes before the House later today,” Calandra said. 

“In fact, we will be going a step further, Mr. Speaker … the premier has asked that we seek the advice of the standing committee on justice to do an in-depth study on all of the aspects, with respect to intimate partner violence, both the current programs that are available, some of the root causes of it and how we can do better in the province of Ontario.”

According to the NDP, nearly 100 municipalities in the province have already declared intimate partner violence an epidemic. 

Move reverses earlier stance

Last June, the province rejected calls from an inquest into the deaths of three women at the hands of their former partner to formally declare intimate partner violence an epidemic.

The jury at a coroner’s inquest into the 2015 deaths of Nathalie Warmerdam, Carol Culleton and Anastasia Kuzyk in Renfrew County made that recommendation one year ago Wednesday, along with 85 others aimed at preventing similar tragedies.

The province said at the time it would not declare intimate partner violence an epidemic because it was not an infectious or communicable disease.

The government’s change in position surprised Stiles.

“There’s not many days when we do something like that,” she said to the legislature. “So I want to thank the government for agreeing today.”

However, Stiles pushed the government to go beyond a simple declaration and took issue with the bill being sent to a committee. 

“We’ve had report after report after report, we know what’s happening out there,” said Stiles. 

Some victims of intimate partner violence spoke out at Queen’s Park and urged the government to act quickly.

Two woman sit with their arms around each other, smiling into the camera at a local restaurant.
Sahra Bulle, right, is pictured with her mother Fartumo Kusow, left, in 2018 for Eid. Kusow called the province’s move to support a private member’s bill declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic ‘a good first step,’ but wants to see those words followed by action. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Fartumo Kusow’s daughter vanished last May. In early June, police in Windsor, Ont., charged her estranged husband with first-degree murder. The day after the charge was laid, police found her body.

Kusow called the government’s move to support the bill “a good first step,” but wants to see those words followed by action.

“The greatest tragedy here in Ontario is we are still debating this in 2024,” Kusow said. “How many more women have to die before we say this is enough?”

#government #support #private #bill #declaring #intimate #partner #violence #epidemic #CBC #News

Leave a Comment