Ottawa city council declares intimate partner violence epidemic

By CityNews Ottawa

Ottawa city council has declared intimate partner violence an epidemic, and the mayor will write the premier to urge him to do the same.

The motion, passed on International Women's Day, follows recommendations from the coroner's inquest into the murders of three women by the same man, in the Ottawa Valley, on the same day in 2015.

“It is an issue that affects so many women in our city,” Somerset Councillor Ariel Troster told her council colleagues, as she tabled the motion. “I recently learned that the number one cause of homelessness among women in Canada, is intimate partner violence.”

The Ottawa city council motion consists of three parts: declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic, directing staff to integrate intimate partner violence into the city's community safety and well-being plan, and having the mayor write to the premier and the health minister in support of the creation of provincial legislation to address family violence, as well as requesting that intimate partner violence be formally declared an epidemic in Ontario.

Formally declaring intimate partner violence as a provincial epidemic was one of 86 recommendations from the triple homicide coroner's inquest. Pam Cross, a lawyer with End Violence Against Women Renfrew County, is pleased that Ottawa city council is taking action, even if the province doesn't.

“It's probably the best thing that could happen on International Women's Day, for sure,” said Cross, about the Ottawa city council motion. She called declaring an intimate partner violence “critically important.”

“It isn't just the women who die; it's the hundreds of thousands of women who flee abusive relationships, it's women who turn to shelters sometimes, unfortunately, only to be told there are not enough beds for them to come in,” Cross told The Sam Laprade Show. “It's children growing up in families where they're exposed to this abuse on a daily basis — this is a huge problem.”

All Ottawa city councillors voted in favour of the recommendation, with the exception of one. Barrhaven West Councillor David Hill voted against the motion saying, while he supported the overall intent, he had concerns with “putting the issue on other institutions.”

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