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HomeNewsDistrict declares gender-based and intimate partner violence an epidemic

District declares gender-based and intimate partner violence an epidemic

The District of Muskoka is urging Ontario to do more to support victims of gender-based and intimate partner violence.

District council went a step further and declared the issue an epidemic during its April 15 meeting.

The idea was brought to council by the Mayor of Bracebridge Rick Maloney and District Coun. Brenda Rhodes, who also serves as Bracebridge’s deputy mayor. Along with the epidemic declaration, the motion will be sent to a handful of provincial politicians, including Premier Doug Ford, asking the provincial government to follow suit and declare the issue an epidemic.

Maloney said the idea was brought to him by Muskoka-Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services (MPSSAS), Muskoka Domestic Abuse Review Team (DART), and Muskoka Victim Services. “All who are requesting that the district consider declaring an epidemic when it comes to intimate partner violence and gender-based violence,” he continued.

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The district council discussion came a few days after the Progressive Conservatives agreed to support Bill 173, Intimate Partner Violence Epidemic Act, from the provincial New Democratic Party.

Locally, the idea stems from the 2022 inquest into the deaths of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam who were murdered by Basil Borutski in Renfrew County in Sept. 2015. He was sentenced to consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole for 70 years in Dec. 2017 but died at the Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont. in March.

Maloney explained the inquest brought 86 recommendations forward on how to prevent intimate partner violence.

The first was for the Government of Ontario to “formally declare intimate partner violence as an epidemic” which could be accomplished if Bill 173 is passed.

“I think it’s absolutely important for us as a district to align itself with many other municipalities who have made similar declarations and, of course, support our local groups like MPSSAS, DART, and Muskoka Victim Services,” said Maloney.

He added the resolution gives the organizations support when they go out looking for funding or resources.

District Chair Jeff Lehman said he appreciates that Maloney and Rhodes brought the idea forward and made a point to read the long motion, which isn’t always done for wordy resolutions, but Lehman said he wanted to highlight its importance. 

“It’s not just raising awareness,” said Lehman about the motion. “Although that’s very important, it is a specific call for action.” 

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