Last year’s cuts came because of money, not policy, Shea says
Based on an exchange in the legislature Wednesday, it looks like Justice Minister Darin King didn’t consult with any women’s groups before he decided to shut down the family violence intervention court last spring.
King refused to speak about the family violence intervention court Wednesday, as he sat in the legislature and ignored questions from New Democrat MHA Gerry Rogers.
In the interim, Joan Shea, minister responsible for the status of women, said the government shut down the court even though they think it’s basically a good idea to have a family violence intervention court.
“This government looked at the family violence court from a policy perspective and agreed with that policy,” Shea said.
“The decision to eliminate it or not continue it was a budgetary decision, Mr. Speaker, not because this government disagrees with the concept of a family violence intervention court.”
Rogers has been leading the crusade to get the family violence intervention court restarted ever since it was cut in the 2013 budget.
The court involved special handling and rehabilitative programs for people in domestic violence situations.
It cost the government $529,000.
Rogers led off her time in question period by asking if the government consulted the Women’s Policy Office before cutting the court.
“The women’s policy office is who government turns to for direction on policy and program decisions affecting women,” Rogers said.
“Their primary focus is violence prevention addressing the needs of women who are victims of violence.”
Shea agreed that the Women’s Policy Office does good work.
“Any time there’s a decision that may or may not even affect women, we ask their opinion on that particular policy or policy move of government to ensure that we don’t miss that piece of work,” she said.
But because the decision to close the court wasn’t a policy issue — it was just about saving money — they didn’t need to consult.
“This government has said that the family violence court was an initiative that was brought in by this government and discontinued for budgetary reasons,” Shea said. “At no point did this government say that we disagreed with that particular policy, Mr. Speaker.”
Rogers tried a different tack: “I ask the minister, did he consult with the provincial advisory council on the status of women?”
Again, King refused to respond, and Shea stood up on his behalf.
“Unless the member doesn’t understand what I’m saying, the family violence intervention court was a budgetary decision as opposed to a reversal of policy for this particular government,” she said.
Rogers tried a third time: “Did the minister consult with his justice minister’s committee on violence against women who helped plan the family violence intervention court?”
Again, King didn’t respond, and again, Shea said that it wasn’t a matter of policy, just money.