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Ottawa seeks funding proposals for projects to help abused partners access family justice system

The justice minister’s Dec. 2 announcement noted that the pandemic has worsened family violence in Canada.

PHOTO: Stock Photo

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti is calling for proposals from legal clinics and lawyers’ and judges’ associations, among others, for up to $1 million a year to fund projects that assist victims of intimate partner violence to access and navigate the family justice system and that improve the justice system’s responses to domestic violence.

The justice minister’s Dec. 2 announcement noted that the pandemic has worsened family violence in Canada. In 2020, 160 women were violently killed, and women accounted for 80 per cent of people killed by an intimate partner between 2014 and 2020. Moreover, Indigenous women made up nearly a quarter of all women killed by an intimate partner during those years, yet they only make up about five per cent of all women in Canada.

Justice Minister David Lametti

According to a Dec. 2 backgrounder from the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Ottawa, the objective of the federal funding “is to improve support and access to justice for victims of intimate partner violence who are involved in the family justice system.”

Activities in aid of this objective, by way of example, could include:

  • Expanding and/or developing and implementing models for Family Court Support Workers or similar services, to help victims navigate the family justice system;
  • Promoting the use of tools to identify family violence in family law cases;
  • Improving co-ordination between different parts of the justice system in cases involving family violence (e.g. between family and criminal justice systems); and
  • Developing and implementing models for court-appointed counsel to conduct cross-examination in family law cases involving family violence where one or both parties are not represented by counsel (this type of activity is only open to provincial and territorial government applicants).

The deadline for funding applications, via an online portal or e-mail, is no later than Jan. 18, 2022, 12 p.m. PST. Details here.

Multiyear projects are eligible. Funding is available from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2026. The DOJ says the government needs to ensure the money is distributed through the country’s regions.

The Justice Department noted that the level of funding will vary from project to project, based on the nature and scope of the proposed activities.

However, for a project that is local or regional in scope, the funding amount available per fiscal year is up to $500,000.

Projects that are provincial or national in scope are eligible for up to $1 million each per fiscal year (the government’s fiscal year end is March 31).

Those eligible for the funding are:

  • Canadian not-for-profit organizations
  • provincial or territorial governments
  • legal clinics
  • judges’ and lawyers’ associations
  • Canadian educational institutions
  • family justice organizations
  • family dispute resolution associations
  • Indigenous organizations, bands, tribal councils and governments, and
  • individuals

The funding will be provided through the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program, as part of a $35-million-over-five-years pot of money announced in the 2021 federal budget to enhance family justice supports for those who experience intimate partner violence.

“One distressing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is an alarming increase in intimate partner violence,” Lametti said in his statement. “Victims of intimate partner violence need support to navigate the family law system, and we need to improve how the justice system responds to this kind of violence. The call for proposals we are launching is an important step in that direction.”

Justice Canada’s Justice Partnership and Innovation Program provides contribution funding for projects “that support a fair, relevant and accessible Canadian justice system,” the DOJ says. “Priorities include access to justice, family violence, and emerging justice issues. The long-term goal … is to contribute to increasing access to the Canadian justice system and strengthening the Canadian legal framework.”

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