Open Letter from 100+ Organizations Calling for a Provincial Declaration of Intimate Partner Violence as an Epidemic


Wednesday, December 6th, 2023

Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
Premier’s Office
Room 281
Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
By email: premier@ontario.ca

RE: Declare Intimate Partner Violence an Epidemic in Ontario

Dear Premier Ford,

We are writing today as concerned service providers and organizations who advocate for, and provide shelter and support services to survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) and gender-based violence (GBV).

Today, on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, your government has the opportunity to acknowledge the severity of IPV, and commit to taking action to prevent further violence, including femicide, by declaring gender-based violence and intimate partner violence for what they are: an epidemic. Femicide, the killing of women, children, trans women, 2-Spirit People and gender diverse people, is most commonly perpetrated by current or former intimate partners (31%). In the past year, there have been 62 recorded femicides in Ontario. That is 62 people whose lives were taken by violence. One femicide is too many. 62 femicides is an epidemic.

We bring this recommendation forward to honour the victims of intimate partner violence, including Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam, three women who were killed by the same man known to have a history of IPV. This call to action is derived from the first of 86 recommendations from the Culleton, Kuzyk and Warmerdam Inquest Report, to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic.

As service providers and advocates, we are seeing firsthand the heightened number of women, gender diverse people and their children fleeing violence and know how critical support for the GBV sector is right now. Currently in the province, there are more women, gender diverse people, and children in need of emergency shelter than there are beds to offer. Across Canada, approximately 699 women and 236 children are turned away nightly because shelters are full. According to Statistics Canada, 2021 marked the seventh consecutive year that police-reported cases of intimate partner violence rose, and we know that due to the complexity and stigma of IPV, it continues to be an underreported crime. We also know that women and gender diverse people living with disabilities, precarious immigration status, those living in rural areas, and those who are Indigenous, newcomers or racialized face increased levels of violence and are at greater risk of intimate partner violence.

With over 70 municipalities across Ontario declaring Intimate Partner Violence an epidemic, we can confidently say that Ontarians share our urgency in publicly acknowledging the devastating impacts of IPV and GBV and the need to take urgent action to address this violence.

We bring this recommendation forward because we know what is possible when the lives and wellbeing of women, gender diverse people and children are prioritized. When governments and policymakers address IPV and GBV from every angle, and make meaningful investments into violence prevention, early intervention, and survivor support services, they are investing in a province where women, girls, and gender diverse people are safe to thrive, grow, and reach

By taking action today and naming this violence for what it is, an epidemic, you would not only be acknowledging the gravity of this violence, but also demonstrating leadership that can save lives across the province. We urge you to make this vital commitment to the safety and wellbeing of women, gender diverse people and children. Call this violence what it is: an epidemic.

Sincerely,

Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes
Alternatives for Women in Prince Edward County
Amelia Rising Sexual Violence Support Centre
Anduhyaun Inc.
Armagh
Assaulted Women's Helpline
Aura Freedom
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Camino Wellbeing + Mental Health
Camp Safety Network
Canadian Center for Women's Empowerment (CCFWE)
Canadian Council of Muslim Women
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadian Women's Foundation
Catholic Family Services of Toronto
Catholic Family Services Peel Dufferin
Centre Victoria pour femmes
CHADWIC Home
Coalition de Prescott-Russell pour éliminer la violence faite aux femmes
Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing
Community Family Services of Ontario
Community Resource Centre, Killaloe
Community YWCA of Muskoka
Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre
East Asian and Pacific Legal Clinic
Embrave Agency to End Violence
End Violence Against Women - Renfrew County (EVA)
Engage Barrie Organization
Family Services Toronto
Family Services Peel
Hiatus House
Homeward Family Shelter o/a Juliette’s Place
Hope 24/7
Huronia Transition Homes
Interfaith Counselling Centre
Interval House of Ottawa
Jewish Family and Child Services
JFS Ottawa
Kwartha Haliburton Children’s Aid Society
Lakehead University Student Union
LAMP Community Health Centre
Lanark County Interval House and Community Support
Leadership féminin Prescott-Russell
Luke’s Place
LUSU Pride & Gender Equity Centre
Maison Interlude House Inc.
Manitoulin Family Resources
Maria Hinton Inc.
Marjorie House
Nellie’s
Nipissing University Student Union
Nisa Foundation
North of Superior Counselling Programs
North York Women’s Centre
North York Women’s Shelter
Oasis Centre des Femmes
OCASI-Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses (OAITH)
Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres
Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre
Parry Sound Family Service
Peterborough Community Legal Centre
Planned Parenthood Toronto
Public Health Sudbury & Districts
Red Door Family Shelter
Roots Community Services
Safe Centre Peel
Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region Inc.
Services aux victimes Prescott-Russell Victim Services
Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton and Area) - SACHA
Shalem Mental Health Network
She Matters
Six Nations Justice Department, Indigenous Victims Services
South Asian Women’s & Immigrants Services
Stonegate Community Health Centre
Sudbury and Area Victims Services
Sudbury Women’s Centre
The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking
The Redwood
Times Change Women’s Employment Service
Timmins & Area Women in Crisis
Timmins Family Counselling Center
Toronto Neighbourhood Centres
Toronto Youth Cabinet
Victim Services of Durham Region
Victims Services of Peel
Victim Services of Toronto
White Ribbon
Willowbridge Community Services
Woman Abuse Council of Toronto
Women & Children’s Shelter Barrie
Women Speak Out
Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region
Women's Habitat of Etobicoke
Women’s Health in Women’s Hands CHC
Women’s Interval Home of Sarnia & Lambton Inc.
Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) / Fonds d'action et d'éducation juridique pour les femmes (FAEJ)
Working for Change
Yorktown Family Services
YW Kitchener-Waterloo
YWCA Cambridge
YWCA Canada
YWCA Durham
YWCA Hamilton
YWCA Niagara Region
YWCA Peterborough-Haliburton
YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin
YWCA Sudbury
YWCA Toronto


MEDIA CONTACT: Sami Pritchard, Interim Director of Advocacy and Communications, YWCA Toronto
MOBILE: 437.286.9627 EMAIL: SPritchard@ywcatoronto.org
RELATED LINKS: Home Free From Violence - Petition (ywcatoronto.org)