Quebec looking into tracking bracelets for violent ex-partners

The Quebec government is launching a pilot project to evaluate whether it should use electronic bracelets to track violent ex-partners.

Province spending $9M on feasibility study into whether the bracelets would be effective here

Quebec minister responsible for the status of women Isabelle Charest, left, and Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault announced the government's plan to upgrand domestic violence programs Thursday. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government will launch a pilot project to see whether electronic bracelets can reduce domestic violence by keeping violent ex-partners at a distance. 

The project is part of a wider plan to combat conjugal violence, which was announced Thursday afternoon by the minister responsible for women, Isabelle Charest, and Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault. 

Charest said the province's services need to be improved, after a string of homicides involving spouses and children in the past year in Quebec.

Quebec has set aside $180 million over the next five years for several measures.

The bracelets the government is considering affixing to violent ex-partners would set off an alarm if the person gets too close to the victim. 

"The first step is to determine if this is feasible, with all the issues it can bring up — the costs and legal issues. We're going to be looking at what's been done elsewhere," Guilbault said. 

France has implemented a similar program. Red Deer, Alta., also had one, but it lost funding. 

Quebec will spend $9 million seeing if the bracelets could work in the province, but Guilbault didn't say how long the feasibility study would last.

The bulk of the $180 million will go to shelters for victims and their children, to help them upgrade their programs and services, as well as for repairs.

The government will also be setting up crisis units in six new regions and creating programs that provide emergency funding to victims of domestic violence needing to leave a dangerous situation.

"All women and all children have a right to live in safety at all times. It's sad that we still have to repeat it in 2020," Charest said at the announcement. "This is a step in the right direction, but I'm aware there's still work to do."

With files from Sarah Leavitt