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Saskatchewan government brings in changes to sexual violence protection acts

A number of changes to Saskatchewan legislation that support victims fleeing sexual violence are now in effect. File / Global News

Added protection for victims escaping sexual violence came into effect on Monday in Saskatchewan.

The provincial government has announced several changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, 2021 and the Residential Tenancies Amendment Regulations, 2021.

The amendments provide sexual violence victims with an opportunity to end a fixed-term lease early by giving notice of 28 days to their landlord in order to flee dangerous living situations.

Read more: Quebec to set up specialized court for victims of sexual and domestic violence

The government added that the changes void any financial penalties for the victim that would otherwise be present from an early lease termination.

“We are determined to protect survivors of sexual violence, who are often particularly vulnerable,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said in a statement on Monday.

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“With these changes, the government is taking all available steps to make victims feel safe in their living arrangements.”

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Changes to the legislation mirror recent updates to the Saskatchewan Employment Act, which extended protections for victims of interpersonal violence to victims of sexual violence, according to the government.

“In the past, this provision was primarily given to victims of interpersonal violence and abuse, but it was not inclusive of victims of sexual violence because it’s about individuals who cohabit with each other or have a relationship with each other,” explained Patience Umereweneza, project specialist with Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan.

“Sexual violence can happen in a variety of contexts, a lot of which are not interpersonal related. It’s really just an inclusion of and a recognition that survivors of sexual violence are also vulnerable, deal with multiple forms of violations and they are people who would probably benefit from this provision.”

Tenants wanting to take advantage of the protections offered by the amended legislation are asked to serve a notice to end their tenancy and a certificate from Victims Services to their landlord.

Landlords and tenants looking for more details on how these changes will affect them can find information, forms and documents online at the provincial government’s website.

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