Dr. Swann Debates Bill 2 – An Act to Remove Barriers for Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence – 16 March 2017

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Thursday, March 16, 2017.

Bill 2 – An Act to Remove Barriers for Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence

Dr. Swann: Just a few comments, Madam Speaker. Thank you. I very much appreciate this bill, long overdue. The statute of limitations has obviously been arbitrary and inappropriate in a number of cases. Child abuse, clearly, has been relieved of that statute of limitations, and this is certainly another area that should be relieved of it.

I would say that in the medical profession one of the gaps, I think, in our training for physicians is to ask every woman, especially women that come into emergency rooms, if they feel safe at home. There’s kind of a reluctance, it seems, to go there, and it would open up the door in a lot of cases for women who are reluctant to speak or who feel in danger but are unwilling to actually share the true cause of their bruise or their injury or their indication of threat. That’s an important initiative that’s gone through emergency rooms across Alberta. I hope it’s being followed. Even our EMS colleagues could probably be helping by raising that question if it is unclear how an injury occurred and simply asking the woman or the man, if he’s been abused, whether he or she feels safe at home.

The other issue that I will be raising later in the Legislature is whether this bill actually covers harassment. It doesn’t appear to cover workplace harassment, and I hope I’ll be bringing forward an amendment at some point to ask that that be included. I’m thinking obviously, or perhaps not obviously, of the Calgary Police Service concerns around women in the workplace and harassment. Many of them could not make their appeal to the Human Rights Commission because they were longer than two years since the incident. In fact, it’s my understanding that none of them were within the two-year statute of limitations. So I would like to make sure that this bill covers harassment in the workplace.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.