Intimate Partner Violence Policy Scan
The Canadian Observatory on the Justice System’s Response to Intimate Partner Violence (the “Canadian Observatory”) is an international and interdisciplinary network of researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. It undertook a scan of Canadian criminal justice policies relating to intimate partner violence, including the policies-at-large of Canada’s provincial and territorial governments, the operational policies of Crown prosecutors, specialized court process, and provincial and territorial legislation providing civil remedies to victims of intimate partner violence.
One initial objective of the Canadian Observatory for the policy scan exercise was to identify, examine and compare policies on IPV among provinces/territories. It was the desire of the Canadian Observatory that the results of the policy scan might also inform future research, and be of assistance to government policy-makers and other stakeholders.
This scan was completed on the basis of the following definition and understanding of “policy”.
- In its most simplistic form, policy is a guide for what governments do or don’t do (its actual practice).
- Policies are value-based and often those values may be in tension – the policy establishes the balance, e.g., between individual and societal values.
- The policy’s intent refers to an action set out to secure the stated value balance, e.g., mandatory charging in domestic violence/intimate partner violence intends to provide protection of the woman’s safety as a priority over the accused’s rights.
- Problems can arise when a stated policy intent does not result in the desired balance or outcome or impact.
Set out below is a series of charts that list the relevant policies/legislation and analyze them according to the categories and elements explained below. To the extent particular policy positions were not expressly stated in the policies, reasonable inferences were drawn. Designated Canadian Observatory members were asked to verify the accuracy of the information assembled for their assigned jurisdictions through government review.
Additional policies and legislation may exist or may have been implemented after the last update exercise completed in September 2013. Any additional updates or further policies/legislation will be included in future update exercises by the Canadian Observatory.
This report is intended for informational purposes only. A critical analysis of the policies was not undertaken at this stage, owing to the prescribed limitations of the scan, but may be pursued at a future date.
In 2008, the policy cluster group in the Canadian Observatory developed a template for collecting information on relevant policy IPV documents. Team members were assigned by the leads, Carmen Gill, the Principal Investigator and Director of the Muriel McQueen Centre, and Elizabeth Blaney, Research Associate at that Centre, to take responsibility for their own province, as well as, in many instances, other provinces or territories. With the assistance of research assistants, these team leaders first conducted a web-based scan of specific Canadian justice system policies in their assigned jurisdictions that related to intimate partner violence.
These policies were forwarded to the leads with most of the subsequent organization of the submitted documents by the team members undertaken by Margaret Jackson, Director of the FREDA Centre. She created a larger merged document from all of the submissions. After the internet search was completed, those responsible for gathering the policies were to try and determine if these policies were current and accurate (that is, through a verification process), as well as to enquire whether there were any missing policies. 
Michelle Lawrence, a Trudeau Scholar and Associate Director of the FREDA Centre, entered into the process at the point of the merger and organized all of the documents into formatted categories. These categories or elements were derived primarily from the 2003 Ad Hoc Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group Reviewing Spousal Assault Policies and Legislation Final Report recommendations. Matrices were then created from these categories by cross-aligning the provinces and territories with the categories for each of the policies and legislation listed. She undertook further research, drawing from government websites and legal databases, to derive other categories and to fill identified gaps in the submissions.
A last step was to give the files back to the original submitters for a final verification process. Iterations were completed in September 2010, September 2011 and September 2013. The first of these iterations was subject to a relatively strict vetting process to ensure consistency in approach as between jurisdictions. However, in subsequent iterations, it became apparent that the Observatory participants desired more expanded categories and expansive definitions to reflect their own jurisdictional realities. The content set out in the more recent iteration reflects, as much as reasonably possible, the data (and interpretations of that data) provided by participants with minimal revision. Because of this, readers are cautioned not to assume high degrees of consistency in that regard. Finally, in the few instances in which verification was not possible to secure in the 2013 update process, this was noted in the library tables themselves, specific to those elements which were not verified. In those cases, it was generally noted that the last verification was the 2012 one.
In 2013, Chantal Faucher from the FREDA Centre and a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Centre for Education, Law and Society at Simon Fraser University assisted with the collection, entry and organization of updated data in the policy library, especially for the French language submissions, and for the final testing of the links . Subsequent to that update, Observatory members and government contacts, who had been involved in the library development, were provided password code access to the library site. That access has been in place since the beginning of 2014. Chantal also translated the entire policy library template into French and assisted with the development of the policy library guidelines for the updates. After that last update in 2013, the Observatory, under Carmen Gill, took over the administration and update responsibilities, and she continues in that role.
 The final reconfirmation that an Observatory policy library should result from this intensive exercise came in June 2011 at the Observatory meeting held in Calgary. The scan was seen to be a potentially valuable resource for the Canadian Observatory members’ referencing and research as well as for the informing of government departments. There was majority support for the idea of the creation of a policy library, in which the information could reside, as the best way by which the policy scan could be disseminated and shared.
 Given UNB’s own access policies, the links are to policies and legislation which exist internal to the library site, not to the exterior internet.