Alberta targets domestic violence

The Alberta government will spend $2.4 million on new programs to fight domestic violence, the province's justice minister announced Thursday.
Alison Redford, minister of justice and attorney general for Alberta, announced $2.4 million in new funding to combat domestic violence Thursday in Calgary. ((CBC))

The Alberta government is spending $2.4 million on programs to fight domestic violence, the province's justice minister said Thursday.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Alison Redford made the announcement at a conference in Calgary — a city that saw nine domestic homicides last year, well above the national average.

"Last spring a young woman was murdered in the home that she shared with her children and her common-law husband," Redford said.

"To know that women have died and that children are impacted is a tragedy. And it's not a tragedy that we can let happen. We need to make sure that there is a consistent message out there that if kids or parents need help — even if it's someone who is abusing — that they are able to reach out and get that help."

Yvonne Fritz, minister of children and youth services, poitned out that 75 per cent of the 13,000 domestic violence calls received by Calgary police involved children.

Three new community-based projects will be funded under the new initiative, which focuses on supporting victims and breaking the cycle of substance abuse that often leads to domestic violence.

Target high-risk clients

HomeFront, a Calgary agency that works with justice, police and social service officials to reduce domestic violence, will get $1.2 million for a project aimed at gettting offenders into counseling, addiction and mental health treatment.

"These are our very problematic folks, and the question is not if they are going to re-offend — it's when. These are people who are highly likely to kill their partner at some point in the future," said Kevin McNichol, the agency's executive director.

"The idea is to target our highest risk clients and provide them with some intensive monitoring and supervision in order to discourage re-offence."

The Ermineskin Women's Shelter Society is spending $489,000 to set up a specialized team to support at-risk families on the reserves of Hobbema, about 70 kilometres south of Edmonton, which have been plagued by family violence.

The Calgary Counselling Centre will receive $750,000 to treat couples where one partner has a substance abuse problem.