Clare's Law coming into force in Saskatchewan

Law will allow people to access the criminal history of their intimate partners, but RCMP will not work with the new law

June 23, 2020, 5:08 am


On June 29, 2020, The Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol (Clare’s Law) Act will come into force in Saskatchewan. “Clare’s Law” allows police to disclose information that could help protect potential victims of interpersonal violence.

Once the legislation comes into force, Saskatchewan residents will be able to make an application to their local municipal police station for the release of information on an intimate partner’s past violent or abusive behaviour.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to addressing issues of domestic and interpersonal violence,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said.

“We hope that by implementing 'Clare’s Law,' we can inform those at risk and help protect them from potential violence and abuse.”

The information can be disclosed to applicants who believe they may be at risk from an intimate partner (“right to ask”), and to persons identified by police to be at risk (“right to know”).

The provincial government has consulted with Saskatchewan’s municipal police services and the Provincial Association of Transition Houses to provide the necessary training for police to process Clare’s Law applications in accordance with the legislation.

Any information that is released to applicants is subject to a stringent review process to ensure that the disclosure of information does not violate privacy legislation.

All municipal police services will be participating in this new protocol.

The RCMP has recently indicated that it will not participate. Saskatchewan's provincial government is attempting to reach federal ministers to ask them to review this decision. Morgan said he is "beyond disappointed at the RCMP's decision

Saskatchewan RCMP statement on Clare's Law

The Saskatchewan RCMP issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

"We know there have been questions relating to how the RCMP provides support to victims of domestic violence since the announcement of changes to provincial legislation. We know these changes will be especially meaningful for anyone experiencing domestic violence.

"Investigating reports of domestic violence is not new to us. We hear you. We believe you. We will be with you every step of the way. What we want victims and survivors of domestic violence to know is that you can continue to rely on the Saskatchewan RCMP to keep you safe, 24/7.

"Domestic violence is not a private affair and causes serious harm to families and loved ones involved. It is also a serious social problem often resulting in violation of the law. We prioritize all reports of domestic violence and ensure we place the victim's safety at the forefront.

"We recognize that domestic violence continues to harm people in the communities we serve, which is why we continue to increase our efforts, services and support for all victims and survivors.

"In October, we launched a Violence in Relationships Course. This training gave our officers an opportunity to listen, firsthand, to the experiences of survivors of domestic violence. This helped our officers increase their understanding of the cycles of violence and how interactions with police impacts the situation.

"We have been involved with the planning for Clare's Law from the very beginning. We have been, and continue to be, supportive of this initiative. Early on in the discussions and planning for the implementation of Clare's Law, we identified to our partners that there may be some challenges with our participation because unlike municipal police services, the RCMP is subject to federal privacy legislation.

"The RCMP is continuing to look into the matter, and considering how best it can support Clare's Law objectives within its obligations under the federal Privacy Act.

"This hasn't impacted our commitment to keeping families and communities safe and we will continue to work in a cooperative manner with our partner agencies and government departments to seek solutions to the serious problem of domestic violence.

"We remain committed to helping any individual with concerns on domestic violence through processes that have always existed for the RCMP.

"We are also implementing a process that will ensure anyone who comes forward with concerns and is then identified by the RCMP as being at risk is safe and has access to Victim's Services and other resources to assist with their safety.

"It is important to note that any member of the public can access information relating to criminal convictions through provincial court houses.

"Our focus has, and always will continue to be on victims and survivors. This will never change.

"There are many resources that can assist victims and survivors with safety planning. Whether or not victims and survivors decide to report the violence to police, they can reach out to local victim services, shelters, cultural and community health centres, Indigenous friendship centres and other community centers for support.

"If you think someone you know might be a victim or survivor, we encourage you to reach out to them and encourage them to seek support and identify their support network."

The provincial government is hoping to convince the federal government to allow the RCMP to participate in Clare's Law, which would mean a change to federal privacy law.