Ontario addresses about half of intimate partner violence inquest recommendations

People take part in a vigil at the Women's Monument in Petawawa, Ont., following the juries release of recommendations in the Borutski Inquest in Pembroke, Ont., on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ontario is working on implementing some of the recommendations from an inquest into the deaths of three women at the hands of their former partner, but the son of one victim is disappointed by what has not been done so far.

The jury at a coroner’s inquest into the 2015 deaths of Nathalie Warmerdam, Carol Culleton and Anastasia Kuzyk in Renfrew County issued 86 recommendations in June aimed at preventing similar tragedies.

Most of the recommendations were directed at the provincial government, and it has now issued what it calls “part one” of its response, including progress made so far on a little more than half of them.

That work includes looking at amending the Family Law Act to give court the authority to order counselling in restraining orders involving intimate partner violence and planning a conference on trauma-informed approaches for sexual violence investigations.

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But Malcolm Warmerdam said Friday he is disappointed the government has not yet responded to the recommendations addressing perpetrators of intimate partner violence, nor to one urging the immediate creation of a provincial committee in charge of implementing the recommendations.

“These are complex recommendations to try to implement,” he said at a press conference hosted by the Opposition NDP.

“I am not expecting them to have gotten everything done and completed by now. But I was expecting a commitment to this very, very important part of the puzzle. And I just haven’t seen that yet.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said the government will complete its review of all the recommendations before the summer.

“The work needed to understand, assess, and plan for the recommendations is complex and must be done with care and attention,” Greg Flood wrote in a statement.

“As the relevant ministries work to provide the Office of the Chief Coroner with an update to these recommendations, we are committed to breaking the cycle of intimate partner violence and supporting survivors to help keep communities safe.”

NDP Leader Marit Stiles said the inquest jury laid out a “road map to action” but the government hasn’t followed it.

“The Ford government’s latest report on this doesn’t even acknowledge half of the inquest’s recommendations, such as declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic,” she said.

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“They’re dragging their feet, and we cannot allow it. This is a public health crisis. Those affected by intimate partner violence have been waiting far, far too long.”

In addition to declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic, other recommendations the government has not yet addressed include creating a survivor advocate position, reviewing policies on emergency alerts and media releases about dangerous situations, and establishing a 24-7 hotline for men who need support to prevent them from engaging in intimate partner violence.

Some of the work the government said it is already doing includes considering future updates to the high school curriculum to add information on recognizing healthy and abusive relationships and violence prevention, looking at improvements to training on intimate partner violence within the justice system, and examining police officer training on domestic assault risk assessments.

The inquest jury also made several recommendations to the federal government, but a response from Ottawa was not among those received so far by the coroner’s office. Those recommendations included exploring the addition of the term femicide to the Criminal Code. Representatives for Justice Minister David Lametti did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Basil Borutski was convicted of killing the three women during an hour-long rampage in the Ottawa Valley in 2015.

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