N.B. women's shelters use new law to protect clients from abusive partners

Original  Article: Rachel Cave  |  CBC News  |  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-law-to-protect-clients-being-used-in-nb-1.4675114

17 applications have already been made to the Department of Justice and Public Safety between May 1 and May 22

A women's shelter in St. Stephen says it's using new legislation to help protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers within 24 hours of asking for help.   

The Fundy Region Transition House says two women have already been granted emergency intervention orders under New Brunswick's Intimate Partner Violence Protection Act, which took effect May 1.

"We're on our third [application] now in three weeks," said executive director Lynne Matheson.

"So obviously, it's something that's going to be done fairly regularly."

Province-wide, the Department of Justice and Public Safety says it received 17 applications between May 1 and May 22.

Short-term remedies

Under the Act, victims can seek various short-term remedies, including:   

  • temporary care and custody of children.
  • a restraining order.
  • temporary exclusive occupation of the home.
  • a provision directing a peace officer to remove the respondent from the residence.
  • a provision directing a peace officer to seize weapons and any documents related to the right to possess or purchase firearms.
  • a provision directing a deputy sheriff to accompany a designated person to a property to supervise the removal of belongings.

The applications are made by telephone to an emergency adjudicative officer who must be available any time of day or night, any day of the week.

"This is something that is very right on," said Matheson. "It's done and it's approved and it's put in place within 24 hours."

System seems to be working

Matheson says so far, the system appears to be working as promised.

"It's an immediate assistance to a woman rather than her having to go to court and possibly go back again and again," she said. 

"That stuff takes months and sometimes up to a couple of years."

Other groups that can help women apply for emergency intervention orders include the police, victim services, domestic violence outreach workers and social workers within the Department of Social Development.

When orders are granted, they must be reviewed by a judge within five days.

The respondent also has a right to challenge the orders in court.

In considering the application, the adjudicator must consider various factors including whether the partner violence is repetitive or escalating.

He or she should also consider any history of mental illness, drug abuse, or recent changes to circumstance such as loss of employment, or any discussion of separation or intention to separate.