ALBERTA — Alberta’s rendition of Clare’s Law, also known as the Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence Act, came into effect on Thursday (April 1).
The law gives those at risk, or an individual given consent by someone at risk, the ability to apply for a disclosure to find out if their intimate partner has a history of domestic violence or related acts.
It also gives police the ability to disclose that information to the at-risk individual if they feel as though they have reason to suspect a person could potentially be victimized by an intimate partner.
Alberta’s version of Clare’s Law was modelled after a law in the United Kingdom with the same name.
The law was named after a young woman who was killed by an ex-boyfriend with a history of domestic violence.
According to the Alberta Government, half of all young women and girls who are victims of domestic violence homicide in Canada were murdered by someone with a prior conviction.
In the press release issued by the province on March 30, Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women said Clare’s Law was implemented at a critical time, as domestic violence incidents have skyrocketed during COVID-19.
“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.”
In 2019, domestic violence accounted for 30 per cent of police-reported violent incidents in Canada.
According to the Family Violence Death Review, there were 204 deaths in Alberta due to domestic and family violence from 2008 to 2019.
Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General said the new law will give individuals access to the information they need to protect themselves from a violent partner, potentially saving their lives.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Big Hill Haven board member Jeff Brunner provided a statement to The Cochrane Eagle regarding Clare’s Law. He said they are encouraged by the actions taken by the province to curb domestic violence in Alberta.
“Big Hill Haven is very happy and encouraged that the Alberta government is taking steps to assist and empower women to avoid unhealthy and potentially abusive relationships before they start,” he said. “But we want to remind everyone that domestic abuse is a real and ongoing problem. If you are suffering from domestic abuse, please reach out to us and the authorities.”
Applications for a disclosure can be made online at alberta.ca/clares-law.
For local support, Big Hill Haven can be reached by phone at 403-796-6564, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.