Department of Justice     


6. Training

(a) The Framework Requirements for Training

The Framework for Action Against Family Violence required comprehensive training for all justice workers to help them understand the dynamics of family violence, their own responsibilities, and the role of other justice workers and community agencies.(1)

Community agencies with experience in dealing with both victims and perpetrators of family violence were to be involved in the development and delivery of the training to assist justice workers in understanding the dynamics of family violence and to help build linkages between the justice system and community agencies.

By June 30, 1997, approximately 3000 justice workers had received a standardized two-day training program delivered through a train-the-trainer model which involved a co-ordinator, Ray Cusson, and fifty-nine individuals from police agencies, the Public Prosecution Service, Court Administration, Correctional Services and Victims' Services. These volunteers had an intensive five-day training session in March 1996 to prepare them to deliver the material to their peers. The training curriculum included the dynamics of spousal/partner violence, elements of the Quincy model, adult learning theory, community resource availability, and the operational policies for responding to spousal/partner abuse. The curriculum was developed in consultation with all components of the justice system and with representatives from community agencies who also delivered a component of the training.

(b) The 1999 Evaluation Report

Participants who evaluated the training sessions responded very positively,(2) and in the consultation sessions held from May to June 1997 with 150 justice workers in Nova Scotia, many participants felt that the training program was the most important critical success factor.(3)

However, the training was not ongoing and the 1999 Evaluation Report found that there had been no comprehensive approach to ensure that new employees received the necessary training or that those already trained received further training.(4)

The 1999 Evalution Report also found that some key justice workers, particularly Justices of the Peace and per diem Crown prosecutors, but also judges, had not received training during the initial phase of the Framework for Action.(5)

Concern was expressed about the "backsliding" of some justice workers and that lack of ongoing training might contribute to a decline in charge rates for spousal/partner violence.(6)

The 1999 Evaluation Report recommended that "representatives from all components of the justice system, together with interested community agencies, develop a strategy for delivering an ongoing training program in order to ensure that all justice employees are familiar with the Framework policies and procedures."(7)

Noting the responsibility of the Court for the training agenda of the judiciary, the 1999 Evaluation Report recommended that "Minister of Justice bring this report to the attention of the Chief Justice of the Province and the Chief Judges of the Provincial and Family Courts."(8)

(c) 2001 Review

In the focus group discussions held as part of the current review, training was identified as a serious gap by participants from each sector of the justice system, by victims, and by representatives from community agencies. Participants invariably commented on the need for ongoing training, both for new staff recruits and as a refresher for veteran members. It was noted that such training would provide an opportunity to deal with concerns as they arise, such as the increase in the practice of dual charging. It was felt that ongoing training would also help to eliminate inconsistencies in practice by ensuring that all justice workers are familiar with the specific policies and procedures that relate to them, and that it would promote an exchange of concerns and discussion of best practices among justice workers and those who work with victims and perpetrators in the community. In this sense it would also foster interagency cooperation.

As noted earlier in the section on sentencing, the vast majority of focus group participants expressed grave concern about the need for training for the judiciary.

Representatives of the Police and Public Safety Services Division of the Department of Justice and Police Chiefs noted the substantial cost of training and the fact that the costs of the initial training program had been borne by the Province. They pointed out that since then, the costs of police training were transferred to municipal units under the Municipal Services Exchange Act which makes municipal units responsible for policing costs. Municipal units, like the Province, are subject to fiscal restraints and they expect the Province to pay for provincially mandated training.

(i) Initiatives in Other Jurisdictions: The Role of Training

Six Canadian jurisdictions have domestic violence legislation-Saskatchewan (1995), Prince Edward Island (1996), the Yukon Territory (Nov. 1999), Manitoba (September 1999), Alberta (June 1999) and Ontario (passed in December 2000 but not yet proclaimed). The details of this legislation will be discussed later in this report.(9) Most jurisdictions with domestic violence legislation undertook a massive training effort prior to the introduction of their legislation, but were not able to sustain the effort, with the result that the need for more training continues to be an ongoing issue. Most training programs were delivered initially by a team and, like the Nova Scotia model, used a train-the-trainer approach to try to sustain it, to broaden the base of knowledge, and to leave a repository of expertise at the local level. Sessions typically covered family violence dynamics, specific provisions and requirements of the legislation, and the roles of various justice workers and community agencies.

Saskatchewan's domestic violence response has undergone two evaluations. Both reports singled out the need for more training. As a result, Saskatchewan has hired an individual with the responsibility of developing and delivering training in family violence and on the domestic violence legislation. Backfilling costs to replace officers who are in training do not seem to be an issue for police and other sectors. Sustainability of training effort is an issue they hope to resolve by using a train-the-trainer approach to create a repository of expertise at the regional level.

In Prince Edward Island, training is ongoing with the support of existing resources such as the Family Violence Coordinator. Backfilling for police while at training is not an issue. However, respondents from Prince Edward Island indicated that it is increasingly difficult to continue the training with existing resources.

Manitoba has recently trained for the implementation of its civil legislation and is now training all Winnipeg police officers. Similarly, Alberta conducted a mass training effort to prepare for its Protection Against Family Violence Act, and British Columbia has done training to coincide with its Violence Against Women in Relationships Policy (updated in 2000). The Yukon Territory also undertakes training but the other Territories have not. Sustainability of training is a key issue facing jurisdictions.

In Ontario, new Crowns and those who wish to be designated domestic violence specialists must take a one week summer course on domestic violence. A new Ministry certified the Ontario Provincial Police College domestic violence course for special investigators. New probation staff to be hired as part of the Domestic Violence Justice Strategy will receive special training.

New Brunswick undertook a significant training effort with the introduction of its Women Abuse Protocols in 1991 and has trained some staff sporadically since but has not mounted a significant effort. The Muriel McQueen Centre for Family Violence Research at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton does offer a certificate program in family violence. Quebec has undertaken training and the implementation of its new sexual assault policy will be accompanied by training.

In the telephone survey carried out in February 2001 to obtain information from other jurisdictions about their policies and programs, respondents saw training as a means not only of imparting information but also of building community capacity and enhancing critical relationships among players. They stressed that training contributes to a common understanding of the problem and of the appropriate means of intervention, as well as to a shared sense of responsibility. Regardless of a jurisdiction's particular approach (domestic violence legislation or not), training was seen as critical to ensuring its effectiveness and the need for ongoing training was recognized. Most jurisdictions favoured components of training that were interdisciplinary in nature. Some noted the usefulness of case studies to "test" the learner's ability to apply the policies and procedures as well as to create a common understanding of "real life situations" and the approach to be used.

(d) Conclusions and Recommendations Regarding Training

The 1999 Evaluation Report identified training as the most important critical success factor in the implementation of the Framework. The need for training for new recruits and providing a refresher and updates to existing staff in all justice sectors was identified by an overwhelming majority of focus group participants during the current review. As well, all other jurisdictions have identified ongoing training as essential to the successful implementation of a pro-charge, pro-arrest, pro-prosecution policy.

It is therefore recommended that Nova Scotia develop and implement ongoing training for all justice sectors, building on the initial success of the train-the-trainer model used following the implementation of the Framework, involving community agencies early on in both the development and delivery.

Ongoing training will help to eliminate inconsistencies in practice, will provide justice workers and community agencies with the opportunity to identify and deal with concerns as they arise, and will help to foster interagency cooperation.

In light of the widespread and serious concerns expressed about the need of the judiciary for training on domestic violence, it is also recommended that the Minister of Justice bring this report to the attention of the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, the Chief Judge of the Family Court, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Chief Justice of the Province, and to the attention of the National Judicial Institute, which provides educational programming for the judiciary across Canada.

1. 1Supra note 10 at 6.

2. 2Supra note 14 at 4.

3. 3Supra note 14 at vi.

4. 4Supra note 14 at 40.

5. 5Supra note 14 at 40.

6. 6Supra note 14 at 40.

7. 7Supra note 14 at 40.

8. 8Supra note 14 at 41.

9. Infra at 139.


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