A Comparison of Gender-Based Violence Laws in Canada: A Report for the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence Working Group on Responsive Legal and Justice Systems
75 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2021 Last revised: 13 Oct 2023
Date Written: August 1, 2023
This report compares laws related to gender-based violence across Canada with a view to identifying promising practices, focusing largely on violence in the context of intimate relationships. Our analysis is guided by a broad conception of access to procedural and substantive justice encompassing equal protection of the law, equal access to legal rights and remedies, and safety for women and children. Through a comparison of provincial, territorial, and federal laws pertaining to gender-based violence, we identify gaps and best practices, including the impact of different forms of legal status on access to legal entitlements (for example, Indigeneity, marital status, and immigration status). We also explore the potential for national uniformity of laws and discuss the issues that can arise when uniformity is absent within and across jurisdictions. We do not consider case law interpreting the various laws we discuss, although we acknowledge that judicial interpretation of laws related to gender-based violence can also create barriers to the safety of women and children and their access to legal rights and remedies. Also beyond our scope is an examination of how laws translate into equal and accessible protections for the safety of women and children on the ground through the actions and inactions of legal actors such as police, Crown, child welfare workers, or immigration officials. We recognize that the (in)actions of these actors may result in adverse consequences for members of marginalized groups such as racialized, migrant, and Indigenous women, and we have tried to flag those concerns in connection with specific laws. This report is a lightly edited version of a report submitted to Women’s Shelters Canada in April 2021 and attached as Appendix F to its submission, Roadmap for the National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence: A Report to Guide the Implementation of a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence. It was updated as of August 1, 2023.
Keywords: gender-based violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation