Posted on Dec 7, 2015

Speaking on Bill 204: Residential Tenancies (Safer Spaces for Victimes of Domestic Violence) Amendment Act, 2015

Ms Babcock: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I just wanted to stand and speak to this in third reading because it takes us a step towards a larger discourse in this province on this issue, that has been kept silent for a very long time. It needs to occur because intimate partner violence and abuse flourishes in an environment where the misuse of power against the vulnerable or less powerful is tolerated. It’s tolerated in this province and in this environment that we have today, and it’s something that we need to stop tolerating in any way. The environment may be behind closed doors, but in our case it’s also in our larger communities because people just don’t want to speak out on it. This allows this discourse to open, and it’s a larger conversation that we must have.

We heard from the member herself that one of the most common reasons for a survivor of domestic violence to stay is that they feel they can’t leave their home, or they haven’t been successful in getting the abuser to leave. All forms of violence and abuse are serious criminal matters, with a huge impact on our society. As the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence states: health costs for injuries and chronic health problems caused by abuse amount to billions of dollars every year; we also pay a social cost in the form of children too traumatized to learn or develop normally.

This isn’t just affecting one person; it affects everybody. When there’s a child in a classroom who can’t develop normally, when there’s a child in a classroom who cannot learn, that affects a lot of the children in that classroom, that affects the children in that school, and that affects their parents when they get home. We have adult victims at that point unable to function to their full potential and a diminished quality of life for families and communities.

Intimate partner violence is abusive and pervasive. No one is immune to this. It affects people of all ages, rich and poor, rural and urban, from every cultural and educational background. The majority of abusers are men, and the majority of victims are women, but that is not the case in every case. Serious abuse is most often committed by men against women and their children. It’s estimated that in 30 to 40 per cent of reported cases where the partner is abused, so are the children. However, there is a growing under-standing that simply witnessing intimate partner violence in their home can affect children in the same way as if the abuse was directed at them.

The first step for anyone in or close to an abusive relationship is to call and get help, and this bill can help with that. Organizations such as the Victim Services Society of Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and District can provide immediate assistance to survivors of domestic abuse, but knowing that a bad reference from a previous landlord will follow them and make it nearly impossible to find a new home for themselves and often their children, many victims feel they have no way out.

Thank you.

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