Mandatory Reporting is Not a Prevention Strategy

A senate public Bill, Bill S-249, has passed its first two readings and is now with the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for consideration. This Bill calls for the creation of a national strategy to address intimate partner violence (IPV). Included in this Bill is a provision that proposes that this national strategy consider a mandatory reporting requirement for health practitioners to report to police when IPV is suspected. While well-intentioned in its aim to address IPV, the Bill has sparked some debate and concern among some advocates and organizations working closely with survivors. While we generally support the Bill’s aim to legislate a national IPV prevention strategy, we are concerned with the inclusion of a mandatory reporting provision.

Rates of reporting IPV are incredibly low. We know that for many survivors, particularly BIPOC, 2SLGBTQIA+, disabled, low-income, and otherwise marginalized people, the police are not safe options to turn to.

We have concerns about the harms mandatory reporting could cause, as well as the additional barriers it may create for survivors in seeking supports and services. We are concerned that mandatory reporting will deter even more survivors from accessing the support and resources they need due to fear of police involvement.

In addition to concerns about police involvement and disproportionate risks for survivors with various intersecting identities, many other organizations working in this sector have raised that this process replicates much of work done for the National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence. There is a concern that survivors will have to replicate and re-produce work they have already done and that already exists but has failed to be implemented.

Additionally, we echo the concerns of other organizations that there is a lack of focus on MMIWG2S+ peoples and alignment with the National Inquiry.

We recommend folks take the time to read and review the Bill as well as some of the following submissions to the Senate Committee from other organizations throughout Canada in order to gain a more fulsome understanding of the concerns and limitations surrounding the passing of this Bill as is: