Intimate partner violence has increased by 30 per cent during the pandemic, a new report shows, and a south Island MP’s private member bill is calling on the government to update the criminal code to better the problem behaviour.
Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison introduced Bill C-247 last year after hearing from community groups about the increase in intimate partner violence. He brought it to the attention of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which then commissioned a study.
The report released Tuesday, recommends a new criminal offence against coercive and controlling behaviour, which Garrison said would allow police to intervene before things become physically violent.
“Physical violence in intimate partner relationships is almost always preceded by a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour,” the report states.
The pandemic has made things more difficult on people in abusive situations, being forced to isolate and stay home. The spike in violence was dubbed the Shadow Pandemic by the United Nations in 2020.
Victoria based Cridge Transition House manager, Marlene Goley said legislation like this could help seriously address “the repeated patterns of behaviour that have trapped, terrorized, and, in too many cases, resulted in women’s and children’s deaths.”
The report, The Shadow Pandemic: Stopping Coercive and Controlling Behaviour in Intimate Relationships was supported unanimously between all federal parties.
The committee also recommended increased funding for Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence that help support victims get counselling, housing and other services.