The City of Kingston declares intimate partner violence an epidemic

October 19, 2023

Story by Christena Lawrie, CFRC Broadcast Journalist, for the Local Journalism Initiative.

At the city council meeting on Tuesday, October 17th, the motion to declare intimate partner violence (IPV) an epidemic in the city came before council and was unanimously voted through.

On September 22nd, 2015, the lives of three women were taken in one day in Renfrew County, Ontario, as they were murdered by their former partner. In 2022, a jury on the inquest into these women’s deaths made 86 recommendations for system changes that would reduce the likelihood of a repeat of this horrific event, one of the recommendations being that the province declare intimate partner violence an epidemic.

The provincial government rejected the recommendation to declare IPV an epidemic, claiming the word “epidemic” should be reserved for health concerns.

Many municipalities in Ontario have adamantly expressed their disagreement with the provincial government. In a presentation before council, Leigh Martins with Kingston Interval House highlighted that 57 other Ontario municipalities have already declared IPV an epidemic.

Martins stated in her presentation, “We need to give voices to our survivors. Language is so powerful. If we're saying that we believe that this is happening in our community, that this is happening across Ontario, across the country, around the world, then it's going to take some of that shame and isolation away.”

Councilors discussed the motion for the latter portion of the meeting, sharing personal experiences and expressing their disappointment with the provincial government’s rejection of this recommendation.

“I support it being called an epidemic because it is infectious. It infects all of us. The attitudes that we bring forward infect everyone,” stated counc. Glenn.

As for next steps, a copy of this motion will be sent to the Premier of Ontario, as well as other relevant Members of Provincial Parliament. Recommendations regarding Gender-Based Violence and Intimate Partner Violence will also be integrated within the City of Kingston’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.

Counc. Glenn stated, “We need to make sure that it's simply not another motion, that we start to live this and act this.”