Report that could 'help prevent deaths' finally released by Alberta government

The Alberta government has finally released the 2015-16 annual report from its family violence death review committee.

Minister not defending delays to Family Violence Death Review Committee report

Allen Benson says the commiteee's annual report was submitted to the minister's office in July 2016. (CBC)

An annual report containing vital information aimed at preventing family violence deaths was tabled by the Alberta government Tuesday, almost a year after it was submitted.

The chair of the Family Violence Death Review Committee said it's frustrating the public had to wait so long to see the findings.

"The annual report is meant to help Albertans look at different ways of preventing future family violence deaths," said Allen Benson, who is also CEO of Native Counselling Services of Alberta.

The 2015-2016 report was submitted to the province on July 22, 2016, Benson said.

He said the committee reviewed 15 deaths in Alberta that resulted from family violence in 2015.

Six of those deaths are now the subject of an in-depth examination by the committee, comprised of 11 experts in the field.

Allen Benson says he was frustrated the annual report by the Family Violence Death Review Committee took so long to be released to the public. (CBC News)

Within a couple of days of receiving phone calls from CBC News, Minister of Community and Social Services Irfan Sabir tabled the annual report in the legislature on Tuesday.

Sabir said he had already planned to release the report. But he did not defend what he called an "unfortunate" delay in making it public.

He said the new recommendations in the report are identical to those outlined in a previous case review in November 2015 by the same committee, which have already been accepted by the province.

"We have started work on all those recommendations," Sabir said, adding several ideas the committee suggested are now in place.   

As a direct result of previous recommendations from the committee, Sabir said family violence prevention materials are now in Alberta Works offices, grants have been provided to community and safety programs, and government of Alberta employees are getting training in the area. 

Minister of Community and Social Services Irfan Sabir says the report raises a number of complex issues that required collaboration with a number of ministries before release. (CBC News)

Sabir said his ministry is also working with the department of labour to come up with strategies to deal with family violence as a workplace hazard.

While promising to do better in releasing future reports in a timely manner, Sabir said it's no easy task to consult with various ministries on such complex recommendations.

 "We certainly recognize that it's an important and critical issue, and we are taking steps that are necessary to work on those recommendations," Sabir said.

Benson said he was glad the report has been released, even if outside the time frame that was required under the legislation.

Committee members showed dedication and leadership in doing such difficult work, he said, and he's relieved Albertans will get to read it.