A move by the Sask. Party government to reduce the province's high domestic violence rates, is being welcomed by officials in Prince Albert and Melfort who work on the front lines.
The proposed legislation called Clare's Law, would allow a partner, friend or relative to request background information, but only the person potentially at risk would be allowed to see it. Sherry Bates, Assistant Director at the Prince Albert Safe Shelter for Women told paNOW any information is good information.
"I think it will help people make a more informed decision on who they decide to partner up with and help shed a light on such a cowardly behaviour and hold those individual offenders responsible," she said.
According to a report released earlier this year, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of police-reported interpersonal and domestic violence in the country. An interim version last year said there were 48 domestic-related homicides and nine related suicides in the province between 2005 and 2014. Bates said domestic violence is a big issue locally.
"To give some perspective we are the busiest shelter in Saskatchewan, almost doubling he numbers of any shelter in the province," she said.
Bates said moving forward she would like to see the province look at some longer term solutions, such as housing. She explained the shelter in Prince Albert only provides a six-week stay for the victims and that was not enough time to properly help the victims get back on their feet.
Louise Schweitzer, Executive Director of Northeast Outreach and Support Services in Melfort, told paNOW they have been at full capacity since February with 16 beds and a waiting list. She said the issue of domestic violence needs to be given high priority by all levels of government.
"Domestic violence affects not just the person being targeted but also all the family that's involved as well. The young children are affected drastically to the point where it's been proven in some cases to change them genetically," she said.
Schweitzer said the proposed legislation represents one tool a person can use to learn more about their partner, but added she felt more could done. Schweitzer said she would like to see a bigger awareness campaign, for all individuals in the province, not just women.
"To allow them the understanding of why it happens, [domestic violence] is a crime of power and control. And we need to giving people the power and the tools to make informed and healthy decision to end that in their personal lives," she said.
-- with files from The Canadian Press
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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