Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On McGuinty Government Taking Action On Domestic Violence Statement to the Legislative Assembly
Check Against Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I rise to inform the House of the action our government is taking to protect
women and children by fighting domestic violence.
You will know, Mr. Speaker, that we are committed to building strong and safe communities.
Well, a community is only as safe as the homes within it.
And too often, women and children face violence and fear in their own homes.
A community is only as strong as the support it offers the most vulnerable people within it.
And too often, the victims of domestic violence lack the supports they need to escape that violence.
Mr. Speaker, each and every person in our province has the fundamental right to live in peace and security.
Each of us has an obligation to work together to ensure that peace and security.
So today I am announcing that our new government is taking a new approach.
The Ontario government will be tough on abusers -- abuse will not be tolerated.
But it will no longer focus almost exclusively on criminal justice, while neglecting the supports victims need and the prevention that must be put in place.
I want to thank my Parliamentary Assistant, the MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Laurel Broten, who has met with front-line workers and experts across the province, to identify needed reforms.
Her excellent work has provided the foundation for our government's plan.
We have been told that we need a balanced approach: that we must go after the abuser, but we must stop leaving the victims behind.
So today, Mr. Speaker, I am announcing the first steps in a long-term approach that will better protect women and children.
Once women leave abusive relationships, one of their greatest needs is to be supported in safe housing.
This is essential to establishing lives that are free of violence.
We are announcing today $3.5 million in additional funding to invest in second-stage housing community supports.
This is long overdue, Mr. Speaker, and it is badly needed.
We know from tragic experience that we must do a better job of intervening early to protect women and children before it's too late.
We are funding a pilot project on a risk assessment tool that will lead to improved training and support for police officers, Crown attorneys and others working in the criminal justice system.
It will help them to better assess risk in abusive situations.
We need to continue to work together to fight domestic violence.
We will hold a provincial conference on domestic violence, bringing together community leaders, experts and service providers to share best practices in preventing violence and providing better supports to victims.
We are establishing a new Ministerial Steering Committee on Domestic Violence, chaired by the Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Sandra Pupatello, which will lead a continuing fight against domestic violence.
Most importantly, we need to break the generational cycle of violence, especially when we know that boys who observe their fathers abuse are 1,000 times more likely to become abusers, and girls who observe their mothers being abused are much more likely to become victims.
We will invest $4.9 million in a four-year public education and awareness campaign targeting children and youth, aimed at mobilizing communities across Ontario to break the cycle of violence.
Mr. Speaker, these are significant steps that represent a change in attitude and approach by the government.
They are steps in the right direction.
Yet they are first steps.
Our work will continue until the violence ends, until women and children no longer live in fear, until our communities, and the people who live in them, are truly safe -- not just from the violence we see on our streets but from the insidious violence that happens behind closed doors.