Saskatchewan justice minister says domestic homicides committee coming

Opposition MLA Nicole Sarauer critical of lack of action on domestic violence

CBC News Posted: May 24, 2016 4:01 PM CT Last Updated: May 24, 2016 7:17 PM CT           

Saskatchewan's justice minister says a committee to review domestic homicides will be working by this summer.

Gord Wyant promised to create such a committee in October 2015.

In the Saskatchewan Legislature on Tuesday. the NDP's Nicole Sarauer — MLA for Regina Douglas Park — criticized the government for its lack of action on domestic violence.

"There are a lot of things that the government was not upfront about throughout the election. However, one thing they were clear on was their lack of commitment to address domestic violence," Sarauer said. "When this government released their poverty reduction strategy in February, they very clearly stated that they would not implement initiatives to address interpersonal violence and domestic abuse until 'fiscal capacity allows'."

Sarauer said the situation is particularly troubling because "our province has the highest rate of domestic violence deaths" in the country.

"Regardless of the fiscal situation, will the minister commit to advice that his own government commissioned and take efforts to prevent and reduce interpersonal violence and domestic abuse?"

Wyant, MLA for Saskatoon Northwest, said the government has done "quite a bit" on the area of domestic violence.

He said the government "introduced amendments to the Victims of Domestic Violence Act" last year "to enhance the ability of police and the justice systems to engage in dealing with this very, very difficult problem."

As for the government's domestic violence death review committee, Wyant said it is currently in the process of being assembled.

"We've had to work on some information sharing agreements," he said. "We will be announcing the memberships of that committee in the very, very near future."

Wyant told reporters the committee will begin by studying three to five closed domestic death cases this summer.

"They'll take those and they'll review those for commonalities. They'll look to see whether or not there's any gaps in the programming which government provides, any interventions that perhaps could have been made or should have been made that could have been advanced by some additional programming."

He said the results of those case reviews will be made public when the committee reports back to government in fall.