Saskatchewan government announces changes to domestic violence policies

Original Article: The Canadian Press  |  The Toronto Star  |  May 24, 2018  |

REGINA—The Saskatchewan government says police will be able to disclose people’s past violent behaviour to their partners in an effort to curb domestic violence.

The move comes after a panel reviewing domestic violence deaths in the province made 19 recommendations in its final report.

The government also says it will fund two additional crisis workers and expand programs that educate children about domestic violence and support those children exposed to it.

The panel examined 48 cases of domestic homicide and nine related suicides between 2005 and 2014.

It found that 19 victims were adult women, while 15 were children.

All of the cases involved an escalation of violence.

“Saskatchewan has the highest rate of police-reported interpersonal and domestic violence of all provinces across all relationships,” said the panel’s report.

“Review panel members ... were unanimous in the belief that domestic violence deaths can be prevented.”

The review was prompted by several high-profile cases, including the murder-suicide of a couple and three children in Tisdale.

Mounties discovered the bodies of Latasha Gosling and three of her children in their mobile home three years ago. Officers said at the time that Gosling’s boyfriend, Steve O’Shaughnessy, had fled the trailer with their six-month-old girl and later killed himself at a home in Prince Albert. The baby was found unharmed.

They were among nine domestic-related deaths in 2015.

Justice Minister Don Morgan said in a news release that the panel’s findings will be used as part of ongoing consultations on a provincial domestic violence plan.

He didn’t say if the government will table new legislation that allows police to reveal the violent histories of people to their partners. He said last year that he was looking into emulating a disclosure law similar to one in the United Kingdom.