The McLeod River Post
New domestic violence legislation comes into effect
Alberta’s version of Clare’s Law came into effect on April 1.
At that time, people who feel they are at risk of domestic violence can apply for a disclosure to find out if their intimate partner has a history of domestic violence or related acts. The Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence (Clare’s Law) Act also lets police take a proactive approach to domestic violence prevention, and disclose relevant information to people at risk, and only to those at risk.
“Domestic violence is devastating for families and communities, which is why we are working to protect vulnerable people and give them options before violence takes place. Clare’s Law will help empower those at risk so they can protect themselves from harm. We campaigned on a promise to bring in this critical, lifesaving legislation and I’m proud to see that promise become a reality.” Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Community and Social Services
Disclosures can only be made so a person at risk can make an informed choice about their safety. Any information released cannot be shared and must be kept confidential. Disclosures are allowed under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act and safeguards are in place to ensure personal information is protected.
“Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and its impact takes a toll on our society as a whole. It is critical we have a system that can better protect those who are at risk of intimate partner violence. Clare’s Law allows Albertans to access information that will help them make an informed choice about their safety, and it also enables police to take proactive steps to prevent people at risk from being victimized. Giving people access to the right information could potentially save their lives.” Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
“Alberta continues to experience high rates of family violence that have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why it is imperative that we were able to move forward with Clare’s Law, so we can arm Albertans with knowledge that can keep them safe. This is an important step forward in helping address and prevent gender-based violence, and creating a safer province for us all.” Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
“Alberta needs to be a safe place for everyone, including Indigenous women. Alberta’s government is taking action by making Clare’s Law a reality. This could save lives and will provide an additional tool to prevent domestic violence and empower those who may be at risk.” Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations
Clare’s Law process The Clare’s Law disclosure protocol outlines the series of steps taken when an application is received.
Under the Right to Ask protocol, any Albertan can apply for disclosure regarding their current or former intimate partner’s potential risk for domestic violence. Additionally, someone can apply on behalf of someone else if they have their consent – or without consent if they are a legal guardian or have legal authority of the person.
“A key feature we are pleased to see included in Clare’s Law is that people who feel afraid in their relationships can choose to access social support. This is a crucial window of opportunity to stop violence in its tracks. When Albertans make a Clare’s Law application, Sagesse is poised to connect them with customized support, suited to their location and situation. Every additional opportunity to access help increases the chance that we can prevent further violence and coercive control situations.” Andrea Silverstone, executive director, Sagesse
Under the Right to Know protocol, police can initiate a request if they have reason to suspect a person is at risk of intimate partner violence.
“One of the most difficult calls a police officer must respond to is that of domestic violence in an intimate partner relationship. These violent crimes often occur secretly behind closed doors over months or even years with intimate partners suffering in silence. Clare’s Law provides a tool that can proactively assist Albertans to make informed decisions, while protecting them from potentially being exposed to dangerous situations involving domestic violence.” Dale McFee, president, Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police
“This law has personal significance for me, and I pray to never experience abuse from a loved one again. I know others who are going through the same ordeal and even people who have been seriously assaulted by boyfriends with violent pasts. People knowing these things before getting too involved can help them avoid assault and violence. I believe Clare’s Law needs to be recognized federally.” Dianne Denovan, domestic violence survivor
Applications will be available online starting April 1.
The individual whose information is or is not being disclosed will not be informed an application was made about them.
Domestic violence issues can be made more challenging during times of crisis, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, and supports remain available for those in need. The Family Violence Info Line is available 24-7 toll-free and in more than 170 languages, at 310-1818.
The Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence (Clare’s Law) Act was modelled after Clare’s Law in the United Kingdom, which was named after a young woman who was killed by an ex-boyfriend with a history of domestic violence.
In 2019, domestic violence accounted for 30 per cent of police-reported violence in Canada. From 2008 to 2019, there were 204 deaths in Alberta due to domestic and family violence, according to the Family Violence Death Review Committee.
Half of all young women and girls who are victims of domestic violence homicide in Canada were murdered by someone with a prior conviction.
Saskatchewan implemented its version of Clare’s Law in June 2020.
Newfoundland and Labrador introduced its Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol Act in November 2019.