Government says support to survivors of family violence is working

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Minister McLean, David McIlveen, Boardwalk Communities, MLA Deborah Drever and Jeff Surtees, Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta announce new supports for survivors of family violence. – GOA Photo

by Morinville News Staff

Certificates that allow survivors of family violence to end their leases early without financial penalty have helped hundreds flee violent homes, the government said Thursday.

The province says since the Safer Spaces certificates program began in August 2016, the government has issued 379 certificates to help survivors of family violence leave an unsafe home and begin to rebuild their lives.

Additionally, a $50,000 Status of Women grant to the Centre for Public Legal Education in Alberta will train landlords and property managers to recognize signs of family violence and equip them with resources to help their tenants.

“We all deserve to live in a province where we are safe and supported,” Stephanie McLean, Minister of Status of Women, said in a news release Thursday. “The Safer Spaces certificates, along with assistance from landlords and property managers, help families leave a violent home and get the supports they need. The more Albertans who know the signs of family violence and what to do about it, the safer we make life for women and girls in Alberta.”

Calgary MLA Deborah Drever introduced the Residential Tenancies (Safer Spaces for Victims of Domestic Violence) Amendment Act, which allowed the certificates, in 2015.

“No one should feel trapped in an unsafe home because they can’t afford to break their lease,” Drever said. “This certificate removes barriers for survivors, which means safety first, not finances, when leaving a dangerous situation. I’m proud to be part of a government that is making life better for survivors of family violence in Alberta.”

To get a Safer Spaces certificate, a tenant must give the Ministry of Community and Social Services an emergency protection order, a peace bond or a statement from a certified professional – including a doctor, nurse, social worker or psychologist – confirming they or their children are in danger. Tenants will also be connected with other services and supports for survivors of domestic violence.

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