Nunavut, Canada Family Abuse Act Failing: Report

Nunavut’s Family Abuse Intervention Act is “failing,” according to a report obtained by CBC News.

A report written by the Genesis Consulting Group in February and obtained by CBC News through Access to Information indicates the law, which came into effect in 2008, has not translated into real help for those living in violent homes across the country.

“For a lot of us, this act is very exciting,” said Rebekah Williams, the assistant deputy minister of justice.

“I like to think that it’s going to work. We only have to train the staff properly. Of course, we have identified a lot of issues with it because of a lack of resources.”

The act allows individuals to apply for immediate protection from abusers and can order people to get counselling.

However, the report indicates the workers in charge of helping people apply for those orders are struggling, and most community justice outreach workers aren’t properly trained.

“We were hiring people from the communities, all 25 of them, who had never worked in the justice field before,” Williams acknowledged.

The report also indicated members of the public do not know enough about the law or how it works.

The report makes nine recommendations, including hiring a manager for the program.

Williams said the government is considering several of the recommendations, and is focused on training people to help implement the act.

But despite the problems, she said the government is still dedicated to making the act work.

“We need to make it work so that the violence does not happen, so we can make it stop.”

Statistics indicate approximately one in five violent incidents reported to the Nunavut RCMP involve spousal violence.

A 2004 Statistics Canada survey found women living in the northern territories are far more likely to be sexually assaulted and murdered by their husbands than those living in the provinces.

Twelve per cent of adults in the three territories who had lived common-law or been married at some point experienced violence at their spouses’ hands, in the five years before the survey. That compares to seven per cent in the provinces.

The use of shelters was also higher in the territories than anywhere else in Canada, the survey found.

CBC News

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