Sask. Party won’t address domestic violence until budget is fixed

Vague poverty report contains no action, no resources

Under pressure to release a poverty reduction strategy, the Sask. Party put out a brutally vague and weak document Wednesday that concluded they won’t deal with partner violence until “the Province’s fiscal capacity allows.”

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of intimate partner violence, as well as the highest rate of domestic violence deaths. By “fiscal capacity,” the Sask. Party is likely referring to its own deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This is a shocking, and frustrating disappointment,” said NDP Social Services critic David Forbes. “The Sask. Party was tasked with coming up with a strategy to reduce poverty, but only produced a list of vague “strengthen,” “improve” and “explore” statements instead of an actual plan or strategy.

“Nothing in the report is given funding or other concretes. But the Sask. Party does make a point of saying that the province’s fiscal problems – problems they created – will prevent them from doing a thing to prevent and reduce interpersonal violence and domestic abuse.”

Forbes said the reality is that not having a strategy for domestic abuse costs much more, in every way.

“The cost for women, for families and for children facing domestic violence – that’s immeasurable. It’s the cost of a life – whether it’s a life controlled, or a life taken.”

The Sask. Party also recently cut funding to homeless shelters, causing the Lighthouse in Saskatoon to close during the day and the Lighthouse in North Battleford to be at risk of closure. The risk to people in poverty and escaping violence at home has been increased with that move, according to Forbes, who also acknowledged that by failing to reduce the province’s high rate of poverty and partner violence, a cost burden falls to Social Services, shelters, police, the health-care system and the court system.

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Sask. Party’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, Page 32