INTERSECTION

Income
Security

INTERSECTION

Housing
Security

INTERSECTION

Custody and
Access

INTERSECTION

Access to
Support

INTERSECTION

Discriminations/
Recriminalization/
Victimization

Ontario Works Act

Ontario Works Act

Inadequate rates make it difficult for women and their families to meet their basic needs and/or leave abusive situations.

The asset eligibility threshold means that some women have to give up their assets, such as savings, homes or cars to access income support when leaving abusive situations.

The definition of spouse as 3 months of cohabitation does not promote women’s economic independence.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Within the economic route of immigration, women most often enter Canada as Temporary Foreign Workers under the Canada Caregivers Program. The legislation introduced a cap on the number of permanent resident applicants processed through the Canada Caregivers Program, which means a limited and more precarious pathway to permanent residency.

Divorce Act

Divorce Act

There is not clear directive to courts on past conduct relating to domestic violence. The act directs court to not take into consideration past conduct unless it is relevant to their ability to parent. In some cases, a history of violence against the spouse or partner has been excluded despite the increasing evidence and discourse around the connection between the abuse in a marriage and ability to parent.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Under the Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) considerations, there is no self-petition process or expedited process for women who have been victims of abuse. This is often a barrier to a woman leaving an abusive relationship and making a H&C application.

The control given to sponsors by provisions found in immigration policy can lead to further abuse, including sponsors threatening to revoke or withdraw sponsorship.

Ontario Disability Support Program Act

Ontario Disability Support Program Act

Inadequate Ontario Disability Support Program rates make it difficult for women and their families to meet their basic needs and make it difficult for women to leave abusive situations.

Housing Services Act

Housing Services Act

Housing Services Act provides special priority housing for survivors fleeing violence. In order to qualify for special priority housing, women survivors are required to provide confirmation of abuse by a professional and proof that they are or were cohabiting with the abuser. It can be difficult to have proof of cohabitation which can be a barrier to a woman accessing housing.

Retelling of experience

Retelling of experience

Policies often require women to share their experiences in order to benefit from a policy. The retelling of experiences can be re-traumatizing and can be a barrier to accessing services.

Proof of violence

Proof of violence

Policies often require women to attest to or prove their experience of violence in order to acquire a service. This process is different across policies. Some policies require women to show they have reported the abuse to the police while other policies require women to write a statement attesting to the violence. The requirement to prove abuse can be a barrier and reinforced the notion that women are not be believed.

Directing social assistance to the man

Directing social assistance to the man

Individuals often report that in practice, when in receipt of benefits as a couple, the cheques are directed to the man by default.

Access to matrimonial home

Access to matrimonial home

With limited access to legal services and support, women may not be able to obtain her rights to the matrimonial homes. With limited policies or supports related to women’s right to remain in their own home, women are often encouraged to leave the home rather than the perpetrator.

Discrimination by landlords

Discrimination by landlords

Women survivors often face discrimination from landlords based on their experience of abuse. This is more prevalent amongst particular groups including immigrant women and lone parents.

Surveillance

Surveillance

Women often report that there is a pattern of increased surveillance of those accessing services in an effort to tackle fraud across policies and programs. This sends the message that receiving support is a suspect activity and can parallel their experiences of violence and control.

Fear of deportation

Fear of deportation

Immigrant, refugee and non-status women are less likely to report violence out of fear of removal or deportation proceedings. A lack of knowledge and information shared around options or a lack of a clear process for women experiencing violence is a barrier to women fleeing a violent relationship.

Access to appropriate housing

Access to appropriate housing

A woman’s access to appropriate housing is taken into consideration in custody and access decisions. For example, if a woman is the access parent, not having the appropriate number of rooms may be a consideration in the access outcome.

If a woman leaves a DV situation and is in a shelter on and off for a long period of time with her children it may affect her custody outcome.

Legal Aid Services Act

Legal Aid Services Act

The eligibility threshold results in many women not qualifying for Legal Aid. Many women must use savings or do not have legal representation in family, criminal or immigration courts.

Facing deportation

Facing deportation

When a mother has precarious status or faces imminent deportation, she or the Family Court Lawyer has to present a plan that is in the best interest of her child in Canada and in the other country. In the immigration system, the same woman needs to argue that it is not in the best interest of the child to go back home in order to defend against deportation, and this undermines the plan submitted to Family Court. The Department of Justice often monitors and follows these cases and may see information that is contradictory.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Under IRPA policy, women are more likely to enter Canada and gain permanent residence status as a dependent spouse. This policy reinforced gender norms and create power imbalances within families.

Abuse through court proceedings

Abuse through court proceedings

Many service providers described how abusers would prolong court proceedings with the intent of maintaining contact with the survivor. This would often result in increased legal costs and survivors being left with no other option than to represent themselves in court.

Harassment from landlords

Harassment from landlords

Women can experience sexual harassment from landlords. In some cases, women report demands of sex in exchange for accommodation by landlords.

Ontario Works Act

Ontario Works Act

Abusers often threaten to call Ontario Works alleging fraud as a form of abuse and control. A focus on tackling welfare fraud can lead to a general belief that receiving social assistance is a suspect activity.

A woman who has been sponsored and is fleeing violence from a sponsored spouse or partner is eligible for Ontario Works. However, in practice, women are often discouraged not to go down this route as it is believed that their reliance on social assistance may deem them financially inadmissible in their immigration application.

DETERMINANT OF SAFETY

Income
Security

Economic insecurity can increase a woman’s risk of victimization and is often the primary factor that influences a woman’s decision to leave an abuser and/or to not return to an abusive situation. Income security may include access to income, employment, education, social assistance and spousal support.

DETERMINANT OF SAFETY

Housing
Security

Access to housing is a key barrier to women fleeing violence and establishing safety. Housing security may include access to the matrimonial home, access to affordable housing, shelter support, or being able to afford to live in a safe community.

DETERMINANT OF SAFETY

Access to & Custody of Children

Access and custody issues are significant considerations that can be difficult to navigate for women experiencing violence. Women who experience violence are often making decisions not only for their own safety but for that of their children.

DETERMINANT OF SAFETY

Access to Support & Services

Access to support and services, such as legal, health, housing, can be critical for women fleeing violence and establishing safety. Maintaining connections with community are also important safety indicators.

DETERMINANT OF SAFETY

Freedom from Discrimination, Recriminalization & Victimization

Women experiencing violence and trying to flee violence and establish safety can face stigma and discrimination. The impact of re-victimization and criminalization can result in women choosing not to access services or support.

Let's stay in touch!

Get WomanACT news delivered to your Inbox