The horrible murders of three children by their deranged father has prompted the B.C. government to introduce the workings of its domestic violence action plan.
Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux said Wednesday the government's plan includes training 20,000 people in recognizing and responding to domestic violence.
She said the government's action plan is a result of an investigation by B.C.'s independent children's representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond into the April 2008 murders of the three children in Merritt, B.C. by their mentally ill father, Allan Schoenborn.
Turpel-Lafond's report found the three vulnerable children, Kaitlynne, 10; Max, 8; and Cordon, 5, could have been saved if British Columbia's social safety net was working properly.
Premier Christy Clark stood in the legislature last March and formally apologized to the children's devastated mother, Darcie Clarke, saying the province can and must do better.
Cadieux said she believes the government's domestic violence action plan offers improved protections for victims of family violence.
"We're certainly committed to improving the system that we have," she said. "It's unimaginable that any family should have to go through this, and we're committed to making sure that we act quickly and effectively in making sure that the system does act seamlessly."
The government announced last March the creation of its Domestic Violence Unit to demonstrate accountability and leadership in the area of domestic violence.
Schoenborn, the subject of an intense Canada-wide search after the shocking discovery of his children's bodies, was found not criminally responsible for the murders because of a mental disorder.
The unemployed labourer was arrested and released three times in the week prior to the children's deaths and 14 professionals were involved with the family, said Turpel-Lafond's report.
Her report said the deaths of the Schoenborn children didn't have to happen.
No new funding
Turpel-Lafond said Wednesday the government's domestic violence plan is a start, but she's concerned that the province hasn't added new funding to the program.
She said it appears financial pressures are restricting domestic violence programs.
Her 2009 report into the domestic violence death of six-year-old Christian Lee in September 2007 prompted the formation of a co-ordinated domestic violence police team in the Victoria area.
But policing cost pressures have recently forced Victoria Police to reduce their participation in the unit, she said.
In the Christian Lee tragedy, the boy's father Peter, murdered his wife, her parents and his son, before killing himself in the families suburban Victoria home in Oak Bay.
Turpel-Lafond's report into Christian Lee's death said the murder was a disturbing example of B.C.'s lack of co-ordination and communication in domestic violence cases.
The report stated that in the six weeks prior to the murders, the boy and his family members were touched by numerous public service providers, including two municipal police departments, an RCMP detachment, the Ministry of Children and Family Development social workers, medical staff, Crown counsel, two therapists and several lawyers.
Turpel-Lafond's report said the police were concerned about Peter Lee's frightening behaviour, but ministry staff were not aware of police fears.