There is evidence that domestic violence is on the rise during the COVID-19 as a result of public health recommendations for individuals to quarantine and isolate, and as such, the domestic violence resources that are ordinarily available to individuals that are a the subject matter of such violence, are not available during this time as transition houses and women’s shelters are already at capacity or closed due to virus concerns. Victims of domestic violence are locked down with their abusers, and the respite that existed prior to the quarantine period imposed by public health, such as work, taking kids to school, community involvement and safety planning, or social activities, are no longer available.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to spikes in domestic violence reports and crisis calls in China, France, and the U.K. – a trend the Canadian Women’s Foundation says has been seen during past outbreaks.
As a result of the dangers of isolation and domestic abuse, we believe it is important for us to provide you with a list of additional resources that are currently actively working to prevent, reduce, and address domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A note that Legal Aid Ontario (“LAO”), a government organization that provides funding for individuals to be able to retain lawyers free of charge, has indicated that while financial eligibility would ordinarily be a consideration in approving potential legal aid clients for LAO coverage, so that they can retain a lawyer, during the COVID-19 crisis, LAO has waived all legal and financial eligibility for domestic violence survivors. This accommodation will remain in effect until further notice. Call 1‑800‑668‑8258 (toll-free) Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for help in over 300 languages, and to apply by phone for a Legal Aid Certificate.
The federal government has announced emergency funding for women’s shelters and other services for those who experience gender-based violence. However, the Canadian Women’s Foundation notes that more funding is urgently needed. The foundation is now fundraising through the Tireless Together Fund, a national emergency fund to help vital services. It is also working with the federal government to distribute funding to vital services across the country. The group’s “Signal for Help” campaign also aims to raise awareness about a one-handed sign victims can use on a video call to silently show they need help.
A domestic abuse resource database is also available that provides a nationwide regional breakdown of the services and hotlines available to those grappling with violence in the home.
The website ShelterSafe contains information on emergency domestic abuse hotlines and resources for Canadians in every province and territory.
A note that we accept clients that have been approved by Legal Aid Ontario. For more information on your recourse in relation to any domestic violence or abuse issue, or if you have been approved for representation by Legal Aid Ontario lawyer, please call one of our Toronto Separation Lawyers, or Toronto Divorce Lawyers today.
We hope that you find the information and resources above, useful to you.
Written by: Ms. Solmaz Separy, Managing Lawyer
Sources: CTV News