Improving access to justice for Canadians through judicial training on intimate partner and family violence in the family justice system
From: Department of Justice Canada
December 6, 2022
Family violence and intimate partner violence (IPV) are serious public health issues and can have immediate and long-term consequences for victims and their families, including physical, mental, cognitive and financial harms. In addition, seeking justice can be difficult and re-traumatizing for those affected by IPV and family violence. Improving the accessibility and equitability of our legal system is critical in supporting victims and their families.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced that the Government of Canada is providing funding to the National Judicial Institute for judicial training on IPV and family violence in the family justice system. The National Judicial Institute is an independent, non-profit, judge-led organization that provides continuing education for federally, provincially and territorially appointed judges throughout Canada.
The Government of Canada is supporting the development of a national online course for judges in Canada on IPV and family violence in the family justice system. This course will be available to all judges in Canada with a particular emphasis on supporting provincial and territorial court judges who hear the majority of cases that come into the family justice system. The goal of this course is to provide judges with additional knowledge and tools to support increased access to services, address challenges that can arise for families navigating multiple court procedures, and promote work towards safe case outcomes for family members. The course will cover many topics related to IPV and family violence, such as myths and stereotypes, barriers victims face when disclosing or reporting violence, and services available to victims and their families.
The course will rely on the most recent studies on IPV and family violence to provide advanced training to judges across Canada. Recognizing that IPV and family violence disproportionately affect certain populations and women in particular, the course will also reveal the impacts of intersectionality on meaningful access to justice. For example, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women are at a disproportionate risk of facing IPV and family violence. Judges who participate in the course will learn about Indigenous women’s experiences as well as the impact of colonization, residential schools, the child welfare system, systemic violence, intergenerational trauma, and other barriers marginalized groups face when seeking social or legal services.
The course will also cover the 2019 amendments to Canada’s federal family laws related to divorce, parenting and enforcement of family obligations. These changes, which mainly came into force in 2020 and 2021, work to address family violence, promote the best interests of the child, help to reduce child poverty, and contribute to making Canada’s family justice system more accessible and efficient.
Justice Canada is providing $869,861 over four years to the National Judicial Institute for judicial training on IPV and family violence in the family justice system through the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program.
“Canadians should have the confidence that the justice system works well and that cases are decided fairly and respectfully. Continuing judicial education on IPV will help improve the family justice system by ensuring that judges have access to training that is relevant to contemporary research and the social context of IPV and family violence.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., K.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“The National Judicial Institute is the principal national body dedicated to continuing education for federal, provincial and territorial judges in Canada. We are appreciative of this opportunity to develop French and English training for Canadian judges on intimate partner violence in the family justice system. The NJI has a long history of supporting the judiciary with education on the core skills, essential competencies, and the range of substantive and social context knowledge required to serve the public and support the administration of justice.
Justice Tom Crabtree
Chief Judicial Officer
National Judicial Institute
- Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as spousal or domestic violence, refers to multiple forms of harm caused by a current or former intimate partner or spouse. IPV can happen in any community, in any type of intimate relationship, including within a marriage, common-law or dating relationship, in a heterosexual or a 2SLGBTQI+ relationship. It can happen at any time during a relationship and even after it has ended, whether or not partners live together or are sexually intimate with one another.
- Family violence is considered to be any form of abuse, mistreatment or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member, or from someone with whom they have an intimate relationship.
- Family violence can also have a profound effect on children. Children who are exposed to violence are at risk for emotional and behavioural problems throughout their lifespan, and these impacts are similar to those of direct abuse. Some of these consequences include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, low educational achievement, difficulties regulating emotions and chronic physical diseases.
- Women represent the majority of victims of intimate partner homicides in Canada, accounting for 80% of people killed by an intimate partner between 2014 and 2020. In 2020, 160 women were violently killed in Canada. 40% of women report experiencing some form of IPV in their lifetime and 30% of all women 15 years of age and older report having been the victim of sexual assault.
- While Indigenous women account for about 5% of all women in Canada, they accounted for 22% of all women killed by an intimate partner between 2014 and 2020.
- While overall rates of family violence may not differ greatly between men and women, there are significant gender differences in the severity of the violence. In 2014, women were twice as likely as men to report being sexually assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or knife. In contrast, men were three and a half times more likely to report being kicked, bitten or hit with something.
- Justice Canada’s Justice Partnership and Innovation Program (JPIP) provides contribution funding for projects that support a fair, relevant and accessible Canadian justice system. JPIP supports activities that respond effectively to the changing conditions affecting Canadian justice policy. Priorities include access to justice, family violence, and emerging justice issues. The long-term goal of JPIP is to contribute to increasing access to the Canadian justice system and strengthening the Canadian legal framework.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada