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Building a National Narrative: A Select Review of Domestic Violence Policies, Legislation, and Services Across Canada

Our goal is to see a Canada where every woman living with violence is able to access comparable levels of services and protection, no matter where she lives. Currently, the services a woman fleeing violence can access vary according to where she lives in the country. This is unacceptable, as the services you receive should not depend on your postal code. 

This report details the differences in resources, legislation, and services across Canada when it comes to domestic violence – differences in lengths of stay at shelters, government funding, shelter standards, Domestic Homicide Review Committees, tenancy acts, and paid and unpaid leave from work.

On average, a woman is killed every 2.5 days, largely by current or former intimate partners. This Building a National Narrative report illustrates the variations and gaps across the country in keeping women safe. It is in part because of these varying levels of services and protection that WSC strongly believes that Canada needs a National Action Plan (NAP) on Violence Against Women.

Women’s Shelters Canada was pleased that a NAP on VAW was included in 2019’s Speech from the Throne. We look forward to collaborating with Minister Monsef on this important work.

This report is a living document – tables will be updated regularly as changes occur across provinces and territories. It is not comprehensive – it is a desk review, reporting on what is available on line to the general public.  This exercise was much more challenging than initially anticipated because of the lack of accessible information and data on government websites, making it extremely difficult to find current and reliable information.

Although by no means exhaustive, it is clear from the tables presented that women fleeing violence in Canada do not have access to the same levels of services or protection across the country.

Women’s Shelters Canada will work to ensure that a NAP on VAW reflects the expansiveness of our country and the importance of ensuring that policies and practices (1) respond to the intersections in women’s lives and (2) recognize the needs of those marginalized by systems and society.