Porchlight Supports IPV Motion at Cambridge City Council

Re: Motion to Name Intimate Partner Violence an Epidemic

To Members of Cambridge City Council,

Porchlight Counselling and Addiction Services has been serving Cambridge for 83 years. While IPV is not new – for all of our 83 years, we have worked with victims of Intimate Partner Violence – the current scale and severity of IPV in our community and across the province is unprecedented. Therefore, we are writing you in support of the motion coming before tonight that would declare IPV an epidemic in our city.

At Porchlight, we work both with victims and perpetrators of IPV through two main programs:

  • Providing free counselling for survivors of IPV through the VAW Counselling Program, funded by the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services;
  • As one of two providers of the Partner Assault Response program in Waterloo Region, a court-mandated program for perpetrators of IPV, funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General.

As such, each year we work with hundreds of victims and perpetrators of IPV. We see the scale of the problem, while recognizing that the majority of IPV incidents go unreported.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the rate of IPV across the province, we also understand that the severity of IPV cases we are seeing has increased, with more victims experiencing strangulation and assault with a weapon. Studies show that victims of IPV who have faced non-lethal strangulation are 6 times more likely to be victims of a homicide. It isn’t only the numbers that are growing, but the severity and likelihood of homicide in IPV that is growing as well.

In fact, 5 of 6 homicides in Waterloo Region this year are a result of IPV, with police receiving 17 calls per day for IPV in our Region, despite 70% of IPV being unreported. In Cambridge alone, over 20,000 calls for IPV have been made to police in the past ten years.

This trend towards more and more severe Intimate Partner Violence is seen across the country. According to Statistics Canada, in 2021, 90 homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner, up from 84 victims in 2020 and 77 victims in 2019. Three-quarters of them were women and girls, while Indigenous women and girls are six times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner.

These statistics should be shocking, and lead us towards action. That starts with endorsing the call for IPV to be named an epidemic, as recommended by the Culleton, Kuzyk and Warmerdam Inquest.

While this motion won’t end IPV, it will send a message when Cambridge joins over 40 Ontario municipalities endorsing this action. Collectively, it sends a message to upper tiers of government, and the community as a whole, that we have a long way to go to create communities that are safe from IPV, particularly for women and girls.

It also starts a conversation about actions we can take locally to improve safety from IPV, including ensuring supports for victims are robust and responsive, ensuring that when a woman needs a shelter bed, it’s available for them. It means investing in supports for victims and reducing waiting lists for help, and preventatively engaging with at-risk individuals before violence occurs.

We join individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions across the province in supporting this motion, and we hope to see the City of Cambridge take a clear stand against Intimate Partner Violence.

Yours in community,

Cameron Dearlove
Executive Director
Porchlight Counselling and Addiction Services
519-621-5090 x 252 – camerond@porchlightcnd.org