Saskatchewan to begin reviewing domestic violence deaths
Justice Minister Gordon Wyant says he will consult with others before proceeding
Saskatchewan Justice Minister Gordon Wyant says the province will begin reviewing deaths that result from domestic violence.
Wyant said Monday the government will work with police, the coroner's office, community groups and First Nations to decide exactly how to review such deaths.
The province has the highest rate of domestic violence deaths in Canada. From 2000 to 2010, Saskatchewan had 58 domestic homicides.
"It's a record we're certainly not very proud of," Wyant said. "But we certainly have to look at the historical domestic deaths. I mean, this is not just a go forward process. We need to look at the some of the factors and see if there's common factors in those incidents."
In Ontario, every death caused by domestic violence is reviewed. However, in Saskatchewan, the coroner has not held an inquest or a formal review of a single such case.
Jill Arnott, executive director of the Women's Centre at the University of Regina, welcomes Saskatchewan's plan to review domestic violence deaths.
"They're preventable deaths," Arnott said. "It's about education, but it's also about a review. We need to look at exactly what these cases are about, what is happening, where did we miss the boat?"
Unfortunately, this is familiar territory for Arnott.
"People call me about this stuff all the time," she said. "I haven't had a homicide victim as of late. But certainly this is a story I hear over and over and over again. And unfortunately, there are obstacles that make it difficult for people to leave."
The province said alcoholism and perhaps the isolation in many Saskatchewan communities may have led to Saskatchewan's high rate of domestic violence.
Wyant said by looking at the factors that led to past tragedies, he hopes to prevent more of them from happening again.