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Partner Spotlight: Amy Maddess, Community Development Coordinator

Can you explain to us a little bit about what your role is?

Sure! As community development coordinator for both the DART group and Ingamo Homes, I wear many hats. I arrange meetings for DART by selecting the best date/time to accommodate members, setting the agenda, and taking and distributing meeting minutes. In addition to these administrative responsibilities, I am in charge of conceiving some of the public education efforts and ensuring that they run successfully. I also manage the website and social media profiles!

What inspired you to get into this role? When did you start?

I've been in this position since January of this year. The majority of my professional experience has been in social services, and the continual nudge to move further upstream to prevent the violence that so many of my clients faced drove me to pursue a master's degree in public health at the University of Waterloo. It was suggested to me during a meeting with my university's career advisor about how to transition my social work expertise into a career in public health that I look for community development possibilities. At Ingamo Homes, a position as community development coordinator was available, and everything appeared to fall into place!

What is your favourite thing about your job?

That's a difficult question to answer because I enjoy every aspect of my profession! I enjoy meeting new people, writing speeches and workshops, creating public education initiatives, and being able to express myself creatively when promoting events. The best aspect of working in community development is knowing that I am a part of the history that makes my community a safer place for families to live free from violence.

What are some misconceptions that people have about what you do, or about working to prevent gender-based violence in general?

          There are many misconceptions regarding my role, owing to the fact that it is made up of so many distinct complex elements. I also frequently find myself dispelling myths about gender-based violence, intimate partner violence, and family violence in general, as some people may not understand what these terms mean or how they differ. One of my favourite aspects of the job is educating others within and outside of my community about the causes of violence and why, when, and how it occurs. It leads to some very interesting conversations!

Where should people go to learn more about available resources?

          I guess I'd start by encouraging folks not to be afraid of learning more, because not knowing as much as people who work in the area isn't necessarily a bad thing. Of course, as community development coordinator, I am obligated to encourage individuals interested in learning more to attend our upcoming events, which are listed on our website, or to follow us on social media!

On July 12th, 2023, Amy Maddess from DART, Joanna Piatkowski representing Ingamo Homes and Jen Weicker from Domestic Abuse Services Oxford (DASO) presented in front of Oxford County Council to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic. The motion was unanimously approved, and we are very excited to have taken this first step toward big change. To declare intimate partner violence as an epidemic throughout Ontario was the first recommendation for change to come out of the Renfrew Inquest (see related post outlining these recommendations). You may read our full speech from July 12th below.

Hello Oxford County council. We want to express our gratitude for having us here today to talk about the necessity of recognizing an epidemic of intimate partner violence in Oxford County. For those of you who don’t know, my name is Amy and I am the community development coordinator for Ingamo Homes and the Domestic Abuse Resource Team (DART) Oxford. I am here today with Joanna, who is the manager of programs and outreach for Ingamo Homes, as well as Jennifer, who is the residential services manager of Domestic Abuse Services Oxford, otherwise known as DASO.  

On June 1st, we presented to the city council of Woodstock to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic. This motion was unanimously approved, and today we are looking to expand this declaration to all of Oxford. To date, 24 municipalities and regions have declared intimate partner violence an epidemic. We are hoping that in joining these municipalities, Oxford can become part of the movement to make this declaration Ontario wide.  

Please be aware that today’s content may be uncomfortable and hard to hear. Please take care of yourself while listening. 

You may recall that we mentioned the Renfrew County Inquest recommendations in our speech from back in June, when three women were killed by their former intimate partner. The need for Ontario to designate intimate partner violence as an epidemic was the first of the 86 recommendations for change that came out of that inquest. 

We also went over the definition of intimate partner violence, when and where it happens, and some data on how often femicide occurs, how much money is spent on the aftermath, and how many people died last year, and in the first three months of this year.  

It is estimated that six women have been murdered by their current or former intimate partner since that presentation.  

We must make this declaration now and take action to prevent intimate partner violence or we will see that number continue to rise. 

Today we will be going a little deeper and looking at what intimate partner violence looks like in a rural community and Oxford County specifically. Then we will discuss how intimate partner violence intersects with homelessness, the mental and physical impact to victims and survivors, and how it affects children in our community. There will be time after this presentation for any questions you may have.  

You can view the powerpoint presentation we created on the screen. It includes information that we mention in our speech as well as supplemental information. Please feel free to ask questions about this content as well. 

Studies note that women who live in rural regions experience a prevalence of intimate partner violence that is 75% higher than that of urban women, and that they endure physical abuse that is substantially more severe than their urban counterparts (Peek-Asa et al., 2011; Wright, 2023). IPV perpetrators in rural areas perpetuate more chronic and severe violence due to higher rates of substance use, unemployment, and life stressors (Edwards, 2014). Knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes about IPV vary across communities, but individuals in rural locales generally support less governmental involvement in domestic violence issues (Edwards, 2014). This lack of involvement is because stronger patriarchal values exist in rural areas, resulting in more traditional gender roles and more intense power imbalances between genders (Luke’s Place, 2022). The close-knit nature and small size of rural communities contribute to a greater level of community denial about the problem of violence within families (Luke’s Place, 2022). Denial in rural areas may also result from the perception of the area as a "haven," away from the negative aspects of city life – there remains many misconceptions about what intimate partner violence is and who is impacted by it (Luke’s Place, 2022). Many assume that violence is an urban issue that affects those of a specific socioeconomic status, ethnic origin, race, or age. This denial or lack of awareness becomes a significant obstacle to survivors in small towns with little resources due to the absence of other options (Luke’s Place, 2022). Rural women who do access services locally lack the anonymity and thus confidentiality that comes with living in an urban area (Luke’s Place, 2022). 

Isolation is another reason why the prevalence and severity of abuse is significantly higher in rural areas. The distance from a woman’s home to the nearest IPV resource is on average three times higher in rural communities than in urban centres, with some women living more than 80 kilometres away from a crisis centre or shelter (Peek-Asa, et al., 2011). Lack of adequate public transport and other various services that characterize urban areas exacerbate this physical isolation. In fact, some abusers move to rural areas for the specific purpose of isolating their partner (Luke’s Place, 2022). This isolation is a significant barrier to fleeing – survivors can not receive the services they need in their own community. In addition to being inaccessible, IPV services in rural locations are generally less well-funded and comprehensive than their urban equivalents (Edwards, 2014). 

Oxford County has one crisis centre, one long-term women’s transitional program, and one part-time sexual violence counsellor. These three services are intended to serve a population of 128,000 people. What this means is that women in our county that need these services are going without or are forced to travel to nearby urban center’s such as London, Brantford or Waterloo.   

Nearly 3000 crisis calls were received by Domestic Abuse Services Oxford (DASO) in the previous fiscal year, and a sizable fraction of these callers were helped in developing safety strategies to withstand the abuse they were facing from their current or past intimate partner. 167 women who came to DASO in need of sanctuary to escape and survive abuse did not receive support.  

Our only long-term women’s transitional program, Ingamo Homes, regularly has to turn people away due to capacity issues and has a waitlist of up to one year. Because of the housing crisis, women who do receive placements at Ingamo Homes remain longer than the intended program was created, and are unable to find new housing when they are ready to move on.  

Research shows that domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women (Ali, 2016). On any given night in Canada, over 6000 women and children sleep in shelters because it is not safe for them at home (Burlington City Council, 2023). 

Women who attempt to leave violent partners in remote communities encounter more challenges. Especially with children, leaving a residence that is many kilometres from the closest paved road is not only challenging, but it also puts a family in danger of being caught in mid-flight. The act of leaving can result in severe, and potentially lethal violence (Luke’s Place, 2022).  

Women who leave an abusive partner sometimes struggle to obtain housing, employment, or a support network. They either sleep on the streets, couch surf, or go back to their abuser after being turned away at shelter. 

Women stuck in this revolving nightmare begin to experience mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts due to the psychological distress of abuse, and the bewilderment of feeling trapped. With every service at capacity and no new funding coming in, Oxford County is dropping the ball for these women. We are sending the message that they do not matter to us. 

It's crucial to keep in mind that this means we are failing the children in our community as well. A woman who decides to leave her partner is determined to find a way to take her kids with her. Her abuser may tell her that if she takes them, he will charge her for kidnapping. He may convince her that she will lose custody or threaten to take the children before she can. In many situations, an abuser will threaten to harm or even kill the children, and our legal system has failed to catch up to the realities of IPV on families.  

In up to 60% of cases where there is spousal abuse, there is child abuse (Canada, 2009). Children who live in situations with family violence can suffer immediate and permanent physical harm, or even death (Canada, 2009). They can also experience short and long-term emotional, behavioural, and developmental problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (Canada, 2009). In 6 out of 10 cases of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, child survivors have considerable problems with behaviour, negative peer involvement, depression, anxiety, violence to others, irregular school attendance, and inappropriate sexual behaviour (Canada, 2009). It is now widely known that witnessing family violence is as harmful as experiencing it directly.    

Last year, the family violence program of Oxford County received 80 counselling referrals for children from Children’s Aid. Wellkin Child and Youth Mental Wellness serving Oxford and Elgin counties reported 205 referrals of individuals having experienced traumatic life events. They estimate that 50% of their referrals are from Oxford County. 

Moving further upstream, prevention and education about gender-based violence have also been identified as longstanding gaps in Oxford County. We have fallen behind other communities in implementing these initiatives, meaning that our school boards, service providers, criminal justice sector and healthcare partners do not have the adequate information that they need to educate and advocate for the people that they serve. Oxford County should commit to engaging with community partners to educate and support our residents about the seriousness and long-term danger of violence in our community. 

Violence against women costs the justice system, health care systems, social service agencies, and municipalities billions of dollars per year; municipalities are on the front lines in addressing gender-based violence. Let me say that one more time, violence against women costs the justice system, health care system, social service agencies and municipalities BILLIONS of dollars every year. Family violence, in general, has increased every year since 2019 (Charlebois, 2023). Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, instances of intimate partner violence have become exponentially prevalent (Charlebois, 2023). 

We know that the information we have presented you with today is bleak; it’s unfortunate that IPV and the murder of women in our community and society as a whole still needs to be discussed. Municipal governments can no longer remain silent and on the sidelines. Our community wants change and so we will advocate for change. Change begins when we all agree that intimate partner violence is wrong and denounce it.  

We are not here to discredit Oxford County. Quite the opposite. All three of us are proud to be a part of this community, and know that we have many great strengths. Oxford County comes together when it needs to in order to protect our community members from harm, hate and violence. We are here today to tell you that this time is now. Passing this declaration announces that we want our community to change, and that we embrace, endorse and pursue change. 

This declaration entails that the County of Oxford review the Renfrew Recommendations and develop a workplan on how the county can advance the objective of ending intimate partner violence.  Here are our asks: 

  1. We ask that the County take a stand and advocate with the aforementioned 24 municipalities and regions that have declared gender-based violence and/or intimate partner violence an epidemic to push the Province of Ontario to officially recognize it as such.  
  1. We request that Oxford County send a communication to Oxford MP Arpan Khanna, and MPP Ernie Hardeman, signed by Warden Marcus Ryan on behalf of council, requesting that they join their municipal counterparts in solidarity, asking for an epidemic of intimate partner violence to be declared at the provincial and federal levels.  
  1. We ask for similar communication to be sent to the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Canada, and the Prime Minister of Canada, signed by Warden Marcus Ryan on behalf of council, advocating that femicide be added as a term to the criminal code of Canada.  
  1. We request that further communication be sent to Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Trudeau, signed by Warden Marcus Ryan on behalf of council, advocating to the provincial and federal governments to provide the appropriate supports necessary to address the epidemic.  
  1. And lastly, be it further resolved that this resolution be circulated to The Honourable Charmaine A. Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. 

Many municipalities across the region have declared intimate partner violence as an epidemic, after seeing a drastic rise in cases and a dwindling of funding and support. By declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic in Oxford County, we will become the 25th municipality in Ontario to do so. This means that one day, intimate partner violence will be declared an epidemic throughout all of Ontario, and this will allow us to get the services that we need for our residents who need it the most. Today, we ask that all voting members of county council approve this declaration so that we can take one step forward toward ending intimate partner violence. We sincerely thank you for this opportunity, and would like to open the space for questions. 


Administrator. (2023, June 14). Burlington City Council declares intimate partner Violence & Violence Against Women an epidemic. A Better Burlington | Mayor Marianne Meed Ward. https://mariannemeedward.ca/burlington-city-council-declares-intimate-partner-violence-violence-against-women-as-an-epidemic/  

Ali, N. (2016, October 3). Domestic Violence & Homelessness. Domestic Violence & Homelessness | The Homeless Hub. https://www.homelesshub.ca/blog/domestic-violence-homelessness  

Canada, P. H. A. of. (2009, April 9). The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children. Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/publications/effects-domestic-violence-children-hurt.html  

Charlebois, J. (2023, June 6). Kincardine Council supports Prince Edward County resolution to declare intimate partner violence as epidemic. Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre. https://www.bayshorebroadcasting.ca/2023/06/06/kincardine-council-supports-prince-edward-county-resolution-to-declare-intimate-partner-violence-as-epidemic/  

Edwards, K. M. (2014). Intimate partner violence and the rural–urban–suburban divide. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 16(3), 359–373. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838014557289  

Luke’s Place. (2022, December 8). Intimate partner violence in rural communities. Family   

law support for women fleeing abuse. 

https://lukesplace.ca/intimate-partner-violence-in-rural- communities/#:~:text=Community%20denial%20in%20rural%20areas,ills%20associated%20with%20urban%20life

Peek-Asa, C., Wallis, A., Harland, K., Beyer, K., Dickey, P., & Saftlas, A. (2011). Rural disparity in domestic violence prevalence and access to resources. Journal of Women’s Health, 20(11), 1743–1749. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2011.2891  

Wright, A. (2023, May 12). Pec Council declares intimate partner violence epidemic in the county. PEC council declares intimate partner violence epidemic in the county. https://canada-info.ca/en/pec-council-declares-intimate-partner-violence-epidemic-in-the-county/  

On June 1st, 2023, Amy Maddess from DART, Joanna Piatkowski representing Ingamo Homes and Jen Weicker from Domestic Abuse Services Oxford (DASO) presented in front of the city council of Woodstock to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic. The motion was unanimously approved, and we are very excited to have taken this first step toward big change. To declare intimate partner violence as an epidemic throughout Ontario was the first recommendation for change to come out of the Renfrew Inquest (see related post outlining these recommendations). You may read our full speech below.

Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, and Nathalie Warmerdam of Renfrew County were murdered by their former partner in 2015, and an inquest into these deaths was held in June 2022. Of the 86 recommendations for change issued by the jury as a result of this inquest, the first is that the Ontario government declare intimate partner violence an epidemic. 

This idea is directly replicated in the recommendations issued following the Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry, which calls for a public health approach to be taken to violence against women and “stable core funding” for groups that help women survivors.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to any behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm. The term "intimate partner" includes current and former spouses, dating partners, and sexual partners. IPV does not appear in every relationship in the same way. Physical assault, sexual violence, criminal harassment, threats of physical or sexual violence, reproductive coercion, spiritual abuse, cyber violence, emotional abuse, financial abuse, or psychological abuse are all examples of how coercive control can be perpetuated. IPV can range from a single incident of violence that has long-term consequences to chronic and severe episodes that are endured for years. In many circumstances, IPV leads to femicide, which can be defined as the death of women and girls on the basis of their gender.

It is estimated that one woman in Canada is murdered by her intimate partner every six days. 54% of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals experienced intimate partner violence and their rate of violent victimization is 2 times higher than cisgender individuals.

Intimate partner violence occurs in all settings and among all socioeconomic, religious and cultural groups. The overwhelming global burden of IPV is held by women and gender queer individuals. According to one study of IPV convictions in Ontario, 92% of offenders were men. Data also reveal that women and gender queer individuals are more likely than men to be subjected to IPV with increased severity (such as being strangled, assaulted or threatened with a weapon, or sexually assaulted). 

The Department of Justice Canada estimates that 7.4 billion dollars is spent on the aftermath of intimate partner violence each year. This includes immediate costs (such as emergency room visits, involvement of police and the criminal justice system) and related costs (such as loss of income, funeral expenses) and intangible costs (such as pain and suffering). 

The Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH) releases regular reports on femicides in Ontario. The most recently released report, spanning November 2021 to November 2022 showed 52 women and girls murdered in Ontario during that period. The images portrayed behind me are of the 13 Ontario women that have been murdered by a current or former intimate partner in the first quarter of 2023. Please note that data from May has not yet been released.

A snapshot of Woodstock specific statistics has been included for your review in the material package we’ve provided.

The city of Woodstock remembers 

Lois Alexander

Shelley Cowell

Sandra Schott

2022 marked the eighth consecutive year of increase in police reported IPV in Canada. This epidemic requires immediate responses from all levels of government. The consequences of IPV are long lasting and far reaching. These women are our friends, sisters, children, parents, colleagues, employees and employers. In spite of continuing progress in public education, there is still a stigma attached to being a victim of IPV, and many choose not to report because they believe their experiences of violence are a private matter, and that they may not be believed.

To date, 14 municipalities across Ontario have declared intimate partner violence an epidemic. A full list of these municipalities has been included in the materials we’ve provided.

Today, we ask that on behalf of the City of Woodstock that all voting city councillors and your worship, Mayor Jerry Acchione, approve the motion to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic. In doing so, the City of Woodstock will have the opportunity to demonstrate that we represent a community that is committed to ending violence in intimate relationships. This declaration will send a strong message to victims of IPV that they need not suffer violence in private; that they are part of a community that will stand with them, support them, and believes in their right to safety. This declaration will make it clear to our residents and the province that the City of Woodstock will not tolerate this violence in our community. Thank you. We welcome any questions you may have.

May is Sexual Violence Prevention Month, a month that highlights the importance of recognizing that sexual violence is prevalent in communities. The Domestic Abuse Resource Team (DART) of Oxford County recognizes that gender-based violence is on the rise in our community and acknowledges the importance of moving Bill-5 forward to ensure that every workplace is safe and free of violence. Bill-5 is The Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act. It has been supported by Oxford County and is slated for its second reading this month in front of Parliament.

What does this bill do?

This bill has three primary components:

1. Require councillors to comply with the workplace violence and harassment policies of the municipality they represent.

2. Permit municipalities to apply to the court to vacate a member’s seat for failing to comply with the municipality’s workplace violence and harassment policies.

3. Restrict councillors – whose seat has been vacated – from seeking immediate subsequent re-election.

Bill 5 was initially introduced as a response to a sitting councillor in Ottawa who was able to seek re-election, even with outstanding claims of sexual harassment. When councillors can perpetuate harassment without accountability, the message is sent to the community that local leaders are not held responsible to the health and safety of its community members. This differs from any other workplace in the province, where not only are workplaces mandated to have violence and harassment in the workplace policies (Bill 168), these policies outline consequences for violation, which can include termination.

A fundamental, underlying principle of broadening diversity, equity, and inclusion in politics rests on the assumption that the workplace is SAFE. This is currently not the case. It stifles diversity of voice at the local decision-making table, while creating an adverse effect on mental health in the workplace and throughout the community. Once passed, Bill-5 will be applicable to all communities throughout Ontario. To learn more about Bill-5, please visit https://womenofontariosayno.squarespace.com

For more information about the bill's progression in Oxford County, visit Bernia Wheaton for City County's instagram page: @berniawheatoncitycounty

Here are some of the main recommendations from the public inquiry into the mass shooting that claimed 22 lives in Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020 (released March 30th, 2023):


What is your job title?

Family Violence / Community Support Worker

Children's Aid Society of Oxford County

Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

I was born in Trinidad and Tobago, the only child born to my parents. My culture, society, education, and personal experiences has prepared me to be the individual that I am today. My passion was always to be in a field that cares for human life and well being. This is how I ended up in the path of being a Child and Youth Worker. I grew up in a society where youth were faced with lots of different abuse and struggles. While I was in my early teens, my dream was to make a difference in my society.

During my early academic years, I had been involved in numerous community events and program to assist in the education of healthier relationships. I enjoy interacting with people, hearing different point of views, and sharing my thoughts and opinion about what society could look like without gender-based violence. Through emancipation and overcoming poverty, I was able to assist and empower others in navigating systems that they are challenged with.

Can you explain to us what Family Violence Counselling Program is?

The Family Violence Counselling Program is a service funded by a compilation of different Ministries that address the dynamics of intimate partner violence within relationships. The program works in cooperation with the family, the community and other service providers to identify and address issues of violence within the family system. The emphasis upon service is that violence is a choice and that each person is affected by violence in the family differently. Some of the programs we offer works actively with victims of abuse by focusing on safety, recognizing the difference of abuse and healthy relationships to assist in making decisions that will allow people to live violence free in the future. In addition, the F.V.C.P. supports men to stop their abusive behaviour in their relationships and challenges them to take an active role in preventing woman abuse and becoming healthier males in society.

Is there a specific population that is most affected by family violence?

Everyone is affected by family violence in some way, shape or form. In my opinion, women and children are affected the most. In majority of the cases, men are the ones perpetrating the violence. At times, these men are unaware of the privilege they hold in society and the harm they cause because of their triggers, unhealthy actions or thoughts and destructive beliefs. Their intentions are at times harmful and unhealthy and in turn the impact of there actions cause harm to the entire family unit placing their partner and kids at risk. 

What are some myths about the role that CAS plays in supporting families, and what do you most want your community to know about the program that you work in?

The biggest myth that has been shared by clients is that “CAS comes in their lives to take their kids away or destroy their families”. What we would like to share with our community is that CAS is here to assist in difficult situations or challenges. CAS is there to provide resources so that families can challenge unhealthy and destructive beliefs in order to learn healthier strategies. I acknowledge that every person’s experiences with systems are different, and that there are going to be different encounters with systems within our life span.

CAS offers many resources to families. I will encourage all clients and community members to be open to resources that CAS may provide. I understand that an agency like CAS may hold many forms of powers in society, but if we are open to accepting recommendations, there maybe a positive impact to the family unit.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The best part of my job is facilitation of programs and engaging in conversations about gender-based violence through education, prevention, and advocacy. One of my biggest goals, is working on creating allyship with men to help stop gender-based violence. In addition, hosting events has been one of my passions.

Is there anything else that you'd like to share?

I am open to learn more about the diverse cultures and experiences that individuals are a part of in Oxford County. I understand that individuals may feel overwhelmed by navigating systems such as waitlists and types of services. If you are open to learn more about healthy relationships, and or are struggling with relationships on a whole, I encourage you to reach out to us at Family Violence Counselling Program and we will be happy to chat.


Children’s Aid Society of Oxford County

712 Peel Street, Woodstock, ON N4S 0B4

Tel: 519-539-1276 ext. 322

Cell: 519-200-5079

Fax: 519-421-0123

86 Recommendations for Change from the Inquest into the Death of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam

The Government of Ontario should:

Oversight and Accountability

  1. Formally declare intimate partner violence as an epidemic.
  2. Establish an independent Intimate Partner Violence Commission dedicated to eradicating intimate partner violence (IPV) and acting as a voice that speaks on behalf of survivors and victims’ families, raising public awareness, and ensuring the transparency and accountability of government and other organizations in addressing IPV in all its forms. The Commissioner should have sufficient authority to ensure meaningful access to any person, document or information required to accomplish the Commission’s mandate. The Commission should be provided with adequate and stable funding to ensure effectiveness.
  3. Engage in meaningful consultation with IPV stakeholders and experts in the field, to determine the mandate and responsibilities of the IPV Commission, which may include: a. Driving change towards the goal of eradicating IPV in Ontario, b. Evaluating the effectiveness of existing IPV programs and strategies, including the adequacy of existing funding, c. Analyzing and reporting on all IPV-related issues with a view to improving awareness of IPV issues and potential solutions, d. Advocating for survivors and their families having regard to addressing the systemic concerns of survivors navigating the legal system. Consideration should be given to the United Kingdom’s Domestic Abuse Commissioner model in developing the mandate of the Commission.
  4. Create the role of a Survivor Advocate to advocate on behalf of survivors regarding their experience in the justice system.
  5. Immediately institute a provincial implementation committee dedicated to ensuring that the recommendations from this Inquest are comprehensively considered, and any responses are fully reported and published. The committee should include senior members of relevant ministries central to IPV and an equal number of community IPV experts. It should be chaired by an independent IPV expert who could speak freely on progress made on implementation.
  6. Amend the Coroners Act to require the recipient of an inquest recommendation to advise the Office of the Chief Coroner if a recommendation is complied with or to provide an explanation if it is not implemented.

System Approaches, Collaboration and Communication

7. Ensure that IPV issues are addressed using an all-of-government approach across
ministries, and cooperate and coordinate with federal, provincial, and territorial
partners in seeking to end IPV.

8. Require that all justice system participants who work with IPV survivors and
perpetrators are trained and engage in a trauma-informed approach to interacting
and dealing with survivors and perpetrators.

9. Explore incorporating restorative justice and community-based approaches in
dealing with appropriate IPV cases to ensure safety and best outcomes for

10. Encourage that IPV be integrated into every municipality’s community safety and
well-being plan.

11. Study the feasibility of, and implement if feasible, justice sector participants having
access to relevant findings made in family and civil law proceedings for use in
criminal proceedings, including at bail and sentencing stages. The study would, in
part, inquire into the following:
a. The process to identify relevant findings and for sharing those findings with other
justice participants,
b. Which justice participants should have access to the findings made by a civil or
family court,
c. What documents from civil and family law proceedings should be shared with
justice sector participants, and how to facilitate sharing of such documents,
d. What permissible uses could be made of the documents and findings in a
criminal proceeding,
e. Models in other jurisdictions that identify relevant IPV cases in different courts.

12. Ensure that survivors and those assisting survivors have direct and timely
communication with probation officers to assist in safety planning.

13. Require all police services to immediately inform the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) of
IPV-related charges after they are laid, and provide any relevant records, including
Firearms Interest Police information.

14. Create a “Universal RMS” records management system accessible by all police
services (including federal, provincial, municipal, military and First Nations) in
Ontario, with appropriate read/write access to all IPV stakeholders, including
Probation, CFO, Crown’s offices, Ontario Court of Justice, Superior Court of Justice,
correctional institutions and parole boards. Police services that wish to use their own
RMS are to update IPV information into the Universal RMS.

15. Require primary actors involved in a major incident to conduct a formal de-brief and
write a report identifying lessons learned and recommendations for improvement, if

16. Review policies to ensure the timely, reliable, consistent, and accurate dissemination
of information, including the use of emergency alerts and media releases, where the
police are aware of circumstances that could put the public in danger, and that the
focus is on safety when developing policies regarding what information to share with
whom and when. Consideration should be given to disseminating information
through alternative methods where cellular service is not consistently available.

17. Establish clear guidelines regarding the flagging of perpetrators or potential IPV
victims in police databases, immediate dispatch and police access to the identities
and contact information of potential targets, and how to notify those targets.


18. Recognize that the implementation of the recommendations from this Inquest,
including the need for adequate and stable funding for all organizations providing
IPV support services, will require a significant financial investment and commit to
provide such funding.

19. Create an emergency fund, such as the “She C.A.N Fund”, in honour of Carol
Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam to support women living with
IPV who are taking steps to seek safety. This fund should include the following:
a. Easy, low-barrier access for IPV survivors seeking to improve their safety,
b. Referral to the fund through IPV service providers,
c. Small grants of up to $7000,
d. It should have no impact on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Plan
e. Consideration for the needs of rural and geographically remote survivors of
f. Funding to be provided on an annualized basis, with adequacy assessed and
considered after the first three years,
g. Inject a significant one-time investment into IPV related support services.

20. Realign the approach to public funding provided to IPV service providers with a view
to removing unnecessary reporting obligations with a focus on service. Draw on
best practices in Canada and internationally, and adopt and implement improved,
adequate, stable, and recurring funding that incorporates the following:

a. IPV services are core programming and should receive annualized funding
like other public services,
b. Service providers provide one annual report for all funders across
government to account for the funds received, articulate results and highlight
key challenges, learnings, and accomplishments,
c. Recognition that, in remote and rural areas, funding cannot be the per-capita
equivalent to funding in urban settings as this does not take into account rural
realities, including that:
i. IPV is more prominent in rural areas,
ii. Economies of scale for urban settings supporting larger numbers of
iii. The need to travel to access and provide services where telephone
and internet coverage is not available,
iv. The lack of public transit,
v. The cost of transportation for survivors and service providers.
d. Consideration of the remoteness quotient used to calculate funding in other
social services, such as education and policing,
e. Enhanced funding for IPV service providers, including shelters, sexual assault
support centres, victim services, and counselling services, considering urban
and rural realities,
f. Designated funding for transportation for those receiving IPV-related support
services where public transportation is inadequate or unavailable, such as in
Renfrew County,
g. Funding to ensure mental health supports for IPV service providers, as well
as timely access to trauma supports immediately following a traumatic event,
h. Funding for services provided to survivors that allows for the hiring and
retention of skilled and experienced staff so that they are not required to rely
on volunteers and fundraisers in order to provide services to survivors,
i. Funding for mobile tracking system alarms and other security supports for
survivors of IPV,
j. Funding for counselling for IPV survivors,

k. Funding for services dedicated to perpetrators of IPV.

  1. Develop a plan for enhanced second-stage housing for IPV survivors.
  2. Fund for “safe rooms” to be installed in survivors’ homes in high-risk cases.
    Education and Training
  3. Develop and implement a new approach to public education campaigns to promote
    awareness about IPV, including finding opportunities to reach a wider audience in
    rural communities. These messages should promote broad recognition of how to
    seek support, risk factors, and warning signs of IPV, community and bystander
    engagement, be accessible in multiple languages and in multiple formats, and
    ensure that rural residents can identify themselves in the messaging and materials.
  4. Complete a yearly annual review of public attitudes through public opinion research,
    and revise and strengthen public education material based on these reviews,
    feedback from communities and experts, international best practices, and
    recommendations from the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC)
    and other IPV experts.
  5. Use and build on existing age-appropriate education programs for primary and
    secondary schools, and universities and colleges. Such programs should include:
    violence prevention, recognizing healthy and abusive relationships, identifying subtle
    indicators of coercive control, understanding risk factors (such as stalking, fear
    caused by IPV, strangulation, threats to kill), managing and processing feelings,
    dispute resolution, community and bystander obligations, the need for safety
    planning and risk management, and the unique experiences in rural and urban
  6. Ensure teachers are trained to deliver the IPV-related curriculum and utilize IPV
    professionals regularly to provide support for the delivery of primary, secondary, and
    post-secondary programming.
  7. Develop a roster of resources available to support classroom teachers in the delivery
    of primary, secondary, and post-secondary programming where local IPV
    professionals are not available.
  8. Review existing training for justice system personnel who are within the purview of
    the provincial government or police services.
  9. Provide professional education and training for justice system personnel on IPVrelated issues, which should include:
    a. Annual refresher courses,
    b. Risk assessment training with the most up-to-date research on tools and risk
    c. Trauma-informed practices, including an understanding of why survivors may
    recant or may not cooperate with a criminal investigation, best practices for
    managing this reality, and investigation and prosecution of perpetrators,
    d. Crisis management training,
    e. The availability and use of weapons prohibition orders in IPV cases,
    f. Meaningful screening of sureties,
    g. Greater use of court-ordered language ensuring alleged and convicted
    offenders will not reside in homes that have firearms,
    h. Indicators of IPV including coercive control, and awareness of risk factors for
    lethality (including destruction of property, especially by fire, harm to pets,
    strangulation, criminal harassment, stalking, sexual violence, and threatening
    i. Unique rural factors,
    j. Firearm risks, including the links between firearm ownership and IPV,
    k. Opportunities for communities, friends, and families to play a role in the
    prevention and reporting of IPV.
  10. Provide specialized and enhanced training of police officers with a goal of
    developing an IPV specialist in each police detachment
  11. Track whether mandated IPV-related professional education and training is
    completed by all justice system personnel.
    Measures Addressing Perpetrators of IPV
  12. Establish a province-wide 24/7 hotline for men who need support to prevent them
    from engaging in IPV.
  13. Provide services aimed at addressing perpetrators of IPV that should include:
    a. An approach that is not one-size-fits-all,
    b. A variety of group-based interventions augmented with individual counseling
    and case management sessions to assess and manage risk and to
    supplement services, as needed, to address individual needs,
    c. Peer support and appropriate circles of support, d. Prioritizing the development of cross-agency and cross-system collaborative services, e. Service models in the areas of substance use and abuse, general criminal behaviour, mental health, fathering, and culturally specific services, f. The ability to respond immediately with risk management services in collaboration with IPV service providers, g. Being accessible by clients voluntarily and via referral, and not just through the criminal justice system, h. Programs are funded at a level that anticipates an increased stream of referrals, i. Make in-custody IPV programs available in the community as well so that offenders can complete programs started in custody, j. Conducting audits of PARs and other perpetrator intervention programs for efficacy, consistency, and currency, k. Increasing program availability and develop flexible options for IPV perpetrators on remand, serving sentences, and in the community.
  14. Recognize the specialized knowledge and expertise of IPV service providers
    involved in perpetrator intervention and support the development of workforce
    capacity within the sector by developing and providing competency-based training
    opportunities. Service contracts should include funding for supervision and ongoing
    professional development, and mental health support.
  15. Address barriers and create opportunities and pathways to services for IPV
    perpetrators that can be accessed in the community. Referrals to service providers
    should be made as early as possible and should be repeatedly and persistently
    offered to both engage perpetrators and reinforce the need for perpetrators to be
    accountable for their abusive behaviours.
  16. Improve the coordination of services addressing substance use, mental health, child
    protection, and IPV perpetration, and encourage cross-agency service provision and
    case management.
  17. As new services are funded, include aims and outcomes associated with building an
    underlying network of specialized services to address IPV perpetration and
    developing messaging around its availability.
  18. Ensure that IPV-related public education campaigns address IPV perpetration and
    should include men’s voices, represent men’s experiences, and prompt men to seek help to address their own abusive behaviours. They should highlight opening the door to conversations about concerning behaviours.
  19. Endeavour to minimize destabilizing factors for perpetrators of IPV that increase risk,
    correlates of IPV, and barriers for survivors to leave violence. Specific consideration
    should be given to financial instability, housing insecurity, and mental health issues,
    including addictions treatment options, and how these factors and potential solutions
    are affected by rural contexts. Intervention
  20. Explore amending the Family Law Act, following meaningful consultation with
    stakeholders, including survivors and IPV service providers, to provide authority to
    order counselling for the perpetrator where IPV findings are made by the family
  21. Investigate and develop a common framework for risk assessment in IPV cases,
    which includes a common understanding of IPV risk factors and lethality. This should
    be done in meaningful consultation and collaboration with those impacted by and
    assisting survivors of IPV, and consider key IPV principles, including victim-centred,
    intersectional, gender-specific, trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and evidencebased approaches.
  22. Co-train justice system personnel and IPV service providers on the risk assessment
    framework and tools so that there is a common understanding of the framework and
    tools for those who support or deal with survivors.
  23. Ensure that survivor-informed risk assessments are incorporated into the decisions
    and positions taken by Crowns relating to bail, pleas, sentencing, and eligibility for
    Early Intervention Programs.
  24. Clarify and enhance the use of high-risk committees by:
    a. Strengthening provincial guidelines by identifying high-risk cases that should
    be referred to committee,
    b. Identifying and including local IPV service providers that are in a position to
    assist with case identification, safety planning, and risk management.
    Consideration should be given to including IPV service providers supporting
    perpetrators, c. Ensuring that involved IPV service providers at high-risk committees are given the necessary information to facilitate their active participation, subject to victim consent where applicable.
  25. Establish policies making clear that, absent exceptional circumstances, those
    assessed as high risk or where the allegations involve strangulation should not
    qualify for early intervention. Crowns should also consider a history of IPV whether
    or not convictions resulted when determining whether early intervention is
    appropriate. Safety
  26. Study the best approach for permitting disclosure of information about a perpetrator’s history of IPV and the potential risk to new and future partners who request such information, with a view to developing and implementing legislation. In doing so, study Clare’s law in the United Kingdom and similar legislation in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, Bill 274 (Intimate Partner Violence Disclosure Act, 2021), and any other relevant legislation and policy. In the interim, develop a draft policy that can address this issue.
  27. Set up IPV Registry for repeat IPV offenders similar to the Sex Offender Information
    Registry Act registry.
  28. Explore the implementation of electronic monitoring to enable the tracking of those
    charged or found guilty of an IPV-related offence and enable the notification of
    authorities and survivors if the individual enters a prohibited area relating to a
    survivor. In determining the appropriateness of such a tool in Ontario, monitor the
    development of programs utilizing such technology in other provinces, with specific
    consideration given to: a. Coverage of cellular networks, particularly in remote and rural regions, b. Storage rules and protocols for tracking data, c. Appropriate perpetrator programs and supports needed to accompany electronic monitoring, d. Whether the tool exacerbates risk factors and contributes to recidivism, e. Understanding any impacts after an order for such technology expires, f. Frequency and impact of false alarms, g. The appropriateness of essential services being provided by private, for-profit partners.
  29. Start grassroots “Safe Spaces” program that businesses can participate in where
    survivors can feel safe and ask for information (i.e. pamphlets and handouts from
    women’s shelters, VWAP and men’s programs).
  30. In referrals made by the OPP to Victim Services, ensure adequate information is
    provided, including relevant history, safety concerns and known risk factors.
  31. Ensure that OPP conduct a study on improving tactical response timelines as it
    applies to rural environments generally and in IPV cases in particular.
  32. Expand cell service and high-speed internet in rural and remote areas of Ontario to
    improve safety and access to services.
  33. Set up satellite offices for police officers to work safely and comfortably to spread
    police resources more evenly over wide rural areas (i.e. consider asking schools and
    municipal governments to provide office space).
  34. Enhance court supports for IPV survivors and develop an IPV-focused model for
    criminal courts similar to the Family Court Support Worker Program. Consideration
    should be given to the independent legal advice program for survivors of sexual
    violence as a model for IPV survivors.
  35. Encourage Crowns to consult with the Regional Designated High-Risk Offender
    Crown for any case of IPV involving a high-risk offender that may meet the criteria
    for Dangerous or Long-term Offender designations.
  36. Crowns should actively oppose variation requests to have firearms returned for any
    purpose, such as hunting.
  37. Strengthen annual education for Crowns regarding applications for Dangerous and
    Long-term Offender designations in high-risk IPV cases.
  38. Commission a comprehensive, independent, and evidence-based review of the
    mandatory charging framework employed in Ontario, with a view to assessing its
    effect on IPV rates and recidivism, with particular attention to any unintended
    negative consequences.
  39. Conduct study of judges’ decisions in IPV cases and track in longitudinal studies for
    recidivism, violence escalation, and future victims.
  40. Review and amend, where appropriate, standard language templates for bail and
    probation conditions in IPV cases, and develop a framework for identifying the
    appropriate conditions based on level of risk in collaboration with stakeholders,
    including judges, justices of the peace, police, probation, crown attorneys, the CFO,
    and community providers with subject matter expertise in IPV risk management. The
    following factors should be considered:
    a. Enforceability,
    b. Plan for removal or surrender of firearms and the Possession and
    Acquisition License (PAL),
    c. Residence distance from victims,
    d. Keeping probation aware,
    e. Safety of current and previous victims,
    f. Possibility of a "firearm free home" condition,
    g. Past disregard for conditions as a risk factor.
  41. Require that primary actors advise the CFO in a timely manner of expected and
    changed residential addresses of individuals who have been placed under weapons
  42. When evaluating the suitability of a prospective surety in IPV cases, Crowns should
    make inquiries as to whether residential sureties have firearms in their home or a
  43. Develop a process, in consultation with the judiciary, to confirm that release
    conditions are properly documented.
  44. Ensure that Probation Services reviews and, if necessary, develops standardized
    protocols and policies for probation officers with respect to intake of IPV offenders
    and with respect to victim safety.
  45. Review the mandate of Probation Services to prioritize:
    a. Condition compliance,
    b. Victim safety,
    c. Offender rehabilitation.
  46. Require that probation officers, in a timely manner, ensure:
    a. There is an up-to-date risk assessment in the file, b. Probation conditions are appropriate for the level of risk of the client and written in a way they can enforce, and, if not, request a variation, c. They contact the survivor to inform her of the offender’s living situation, any conditions or limitations on his movement or activities, and what she should do in the event of a possible breach by the offender, d. Regular contact with survivors to receive updates, provide information regarding the offender’s residence and locations frequented, and any changes to such circumstances, and seek input from survivors and justice system personnel before making decisions that may impact her safety, e. Improved supervision of high-risk perpetrators released on probation, including informed decision-making when applying or seeking to modify conditions that impact the survivor’s needs and safety, f. Risk assessments and risks of lethality are taken into account when making enforcement decisions.
  47. Ensure existing policy and guidelines require probation officers to follow through on
    enforcement of non-compliance by requiring delivery and documentation of clear
    instructions regarding expectations to supervised offenders in a way that allows for
    direct and progressive enforcement decisions. This should be a focus for
    performance management and quality assurance processes.
  48. Ensure collaboration between corrections and probation staff to improve
    rehabilitation and risk management services. Consideration should be given to twoway information sharing including of case notes, and opportunities to order treatment
    in institutions for those with existing probation orders who are on remand. To the Chief Firearms Officer: The Chief Firearms Officer should work with appropriate decision-makers to:
  49. Review the mandate and approach of the CFO’s Spousal Support line to:
    a. Change its name to one that better reflects its purpose. It should be clear that
    it is broadly accessible and not limited to a particular kind of relationship,
    b. Be staffed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week,
    c. Be publicized to enhance public awareness, and become better known
    among policing partners possibly through All Chiefs’ bulletins.
  50. Create guidelines for staff in making decisions regarding whether to issue, review,
    revoke, or add conditions to PALs to ensure consistency among staff and through time. Particular attention should be paid to red flags and risk factors around IPV, including where there is no conviction.
  51. Require that a PAL is automatically reviewed when someone is charged with an IPVrelated offence.
  52. Require PAL applicants and holders to report to the CFO in a timely manner any
    change in information provided in application and renewal forms submitted to the
    CFO, including when an individual with weapons restrictions comes to reside in their
  53. Amend PAL application and renewal forms to require identification as a surety. To the Office of the Chief Coroner The Office of the Chief Coroner should:
  54. Ensure that the DVDRC reviews its mandate with a view to enhancing its impact on
    IPV and provide the DVDRC with improved supports.
  55. Ensure DVDRC annual reports are published online in a timely manner.
  56. Ensure that DVDRC reports and responses to recommendations are publicly
    available and will continue to be available without charge.
  57. Consider adopting Femicide as one of the categories for manner of death.
    To the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
    The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario should:
  58. Working together with the DVDRC, justice partners and IPV service providers,
    develop a plain language tool to empower IPV professionals to make informed
    decisions about privacy, confidentiality, and public safety. To the Government of Canada The Government of Canada should:
  59. Explore adding the term “Femicide” and its definition to the Criminal Code to be used where appropriate in the context of relevant crimes.
  60. Consider amendments to the Dangerous Offender provisions of the Criminal Code,
    or the inclusion of a new classification of Offender under the Criminal Code, that better reflects the realities of IPV charges and takes into account risk factors for serious violence and lethality in an IPV context.
  61. Undertake an analysis of the application of s. 264 of the Criminal Code with a view
    to evaluating whether the existing factors adequately capture the impact on
    survivors. Consider the removal of the subjective requirement that the action causes
    the victim to fear for their safety.
  62. Consider finding alternate means for survivors to attend and testify in court, such as
    by video conferencing.
  63. Implement the National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence in a timely manner.
  64. Establish a Royal Commission to review and recommend changes to the Criminal
    Justice system to make it more victim-centric, more responsive to root causes of
    crime and more adaptable as society evolves.
  65. Include “coercive control”, as defined in the Divorce Act, as a criminal offence on its
    own or as a type of assault under s. 265 of the Criminal Code.
    To the Parties to this Inquest
    The Parties to this Inquest should:
  66. Reconvene one year following the Verdict to discuss the progress in implementing
    these recommendations. Source: https://lukesplace.ca/86-recommendations-for-change-from-the-renfrew-county-inquest/

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