Statement made on 15 February 2011 by Senator Catherine Callbeck
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck:
Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize Family Violence Prevention Week in my home province, which aims to make Islanders aware of the serious situation experienced by countless women and families across the province and, indeed, across the whole country.
This devastating problem results in injuries, unbearable living conditions, broken homes and, in some cases, death.
Family violence is a problem within Canadian families of all walks of life and every social and economic status. Startling statistics reveal the severity and frequency of the issue. According to Statistics Canada, over half of Canadian women — 51 per cent — have been victims of at least one act of violence since age 16. Children's rates of exposure to domestic violence have increased by 259 per cent since 1998.
Family violence is indeed a serious and tragic issue in communities. That is why, in 1995, we established the Premier's Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention in my home province. It was made up of representatives from 17 community groups and 6 government departments, and it worked closely with police, municipalities and community organizations to address a range of issues related to family violence. It was a five-year strategy, but I am pleased to say that, 16 years, later this committee and its good work are continuing.
Over the years since its inception, the committee's "made in Prince Edward Island" approach has been recognized nationally as a model of best practice for community involvement.
Years ago, we would not have been discussing this issue, and certainly not publicly. Many people flatly refused to recognize it as a problem. Those who knew about occurrences of family violence thought that what happened in other peoples' homes did not affect them.
Fortunately, times and attitudes have changed. We recognize the impact that family violence has on our society and on our children. We have resources and services in place to assist those who need help to leave an abusive situation. We have dedicated people whose efforts on the front line — providing services, creating awareness, offering support — are truly outstanding.
We are making progress. I have high hopes that progress will continue as there is much more work to be done.