Legislation introduced by the government to strengthen support for individuals fleeing interpersonal and family violence are being commended by the YWCA.
Amendments to the Victims of Interpersonal Violence Act and Residential Tenancies Act will allow a tenant to end a fixed-term rental agreement with 28 days notice if they or their family are facing abuse by another or former resident.
“This will allow for a lot more freedoms,” Donna Brooks, CEO of the Prince Albert YWCA said.
She outlined scenarios where those fleeing domestic violence were forced to break their lease early and come to the shelter, therefore, resulting in a bad reputation with landlords and a bruise to their credit ratings, only creating additional hurdles when it came time to attain a new place to live.
The legislation will bring the province in line with a handful of other jurisdictions in the country, including neighbours to the West, which recently passed similar rules.
These amendments were accompanied by the ministry extending compensation for counselling costs to parents, siblings, and adult children of adult victims who died as a result of violent crime.
They were also applauded by the CEO who said counselling can play a vital role as a segway back to normal life.
Brooks explained how people may attempt to gain counselling through free mental health services but they can be extremely backlogged and are in high demand.
“Other counselling is available out there, but there is quite often a charge for it,” she explained.
Despite welcoming these changes, Brooks said there were a number of other items she would like to see addressed.
“One of the things I would like to see change is [for] less red tape within the social services system [and] to make it easier for women who are fleeing violent situations to get financial help,” she explained.
She would also like to see those fleeing violence allowed the opportunity to reside longer in shelters.
As the YWCA operates as a crisis centre, it does not have limitations on the length of time people can stay in the shelter. However, many other homes where domestic violence is their sole area of operation, a six-week cap is placed on someone's stay.
She felt each person should be dealt with on a case by case basis.
“A six-week limit, sometimes that is not long enough,” Brooks said. “What ends up happening is they will go to one shelter for six weeks, but won't be able to leave [their situation] yet, so they will come to our shelter.”
Nonetheless, with Saskatchewan having some of the highest rates of family violence in Canada, Brooks was “really glad” to see the changes come forward and have the government recognize the importance of helping those grappling with these troublesome situations.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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