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Report says most domestic violence victims in Saskatchewan are women, children
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, May 11, 2017 10:50AM CST
Last Updated Thursday, May 11, 2017 1:45PM CST
A panel examining domestic violence says most domestic homicide victims in Saskatchewan have been women and a third were children.
The panel's interim report released Thursday by the justice department examined 48 cases of domestic homicide between 2005 and 2014. It found that 19 victims were adult women, while 15 were children.
Justice Minister Gordon Wyant said he found the figures "a little bit surprising."
"What they show is ... we have a significant issue in this province with respect to not only inter-personal violence, but domestic homicide," he said.
"One of the things that was surprising was that six out of 10 communities in this country that have the highest rates of domestic violence are in Saskatchewan and that was a surprising number for me."
Wyant said he was also surprised by the ages of the victims. Five female and nine male victims were 10-years-old or younger.
The male child victims were all three years old or younger.
The majority of perpetrators of domestic-related homicide -- 32 -- were male while 14 were female.
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 in April 2015. Officers said at the time that Gosling's boyfriend, Steve O'Shaughnessy, had fled the trailer with their six-month-old girl and driven to Prince Albert, where he killed himself. The baby was found unharmed.
They were among nine domestic-related deaths in 2015.
The interim report says these deaths were not considered in selecting cases for the pilot because some hadn't made their way through court yet.
A final report will be released in the fall. The province says the report, along with the Saskatchewan Domestic Violence Death Review pilot project, will help shape its provincial strategy on domestic violence.
"We've asked our ministry to start working on that," said Wyant. "I think this will be very instructive."
Wyant says the interim report will also be shared with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The report found that 27 of the 48 domestic homicide victims were indigenous.
Last month, the Saskatchewan government passed legislation allowing a tenant to end a rental agreement with 28 days notice if they or their family members are being abused by another resident or former resident. Having signed a year-long lease will no longer factor into someone's decision to leave, Wyant said at the time.
New Democrat Nicole Sarauer suggested the legislative change last June as a way to quickly help domestic violence victims.
Sarauer has also suggested Saskatchewan look at a Manitoba law that allows employees who are victims of domestic violence to take leave from work.
Sarauer says the interim report findings are not a surprise.
"We do know, and we've talked about this time and time again, that we have serious problem with domestic violence in this province," Sarauer said Thursday.
Statistics Canada says Saskatchewan has the highest police-reported family violence rate of any province at 489.4 per 100,000 people -- about double the Canadian average.
"That's nothing to be proud of," Wyant said. "What these statistics do is they bring that home in a very direct way. It's one thing to say you have the highest rates, but when you actually see them on a piece of paper, it's very dramatic."