Montreal now has a domestic violence crisis unit

Montréal now has a domestic violence crisis unit

Quebec Minister for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest.

Montréal now officially has its crisis unit for the prevention and fight against homicide in the marital context. Launched under the name of the Concerted Action Cell in Domestic Violence (CAC VC) by the Table de concertation en violence conjugale de Montréal (TCVCM), the tool will prevent feminicides by solidifying the “safety net”, according to Montreal organizations.

After Laval, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Lanaudière and Estrie, it is the island of Montreal's turn to set up a crisis unit that works to counter domestic violence.

Spokesperson for the Regroupement des centers pour femmes victims de violence conjugale and general manager of a women's shelter in the West Island, Guylaine Simard, is delighted to see the project materialize in the metropolis. “It already exists in other regions and we see how it helps […] It was expected by the shelters to have a cell like that in Montreal,” she says.

Clément Guèvremont, assistant director of the organization Option, which offers services to men and women with violent behavior in a marital and family context, agrees. “We've been wanting the creation of a cell for several years now,” he says.

After a great reflection on the best conditions for the deployment of a crisis unit in the metropolis, the project received funding of up to $150,000 from the City of Montreal, the Foundation of Greater Montreal and of Centraide in late spring 2021.

During the launch ceremony, which took place virtually on Wednesday afternoon, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest, announced that the project will be funded by the government of Quebec to the tune of $70,000. This new funding should ensure the operation of the concerted action cell in domestic violence in the longer term.

Joint work

The crisis unit brings together the various stakeholders around the same table. “It will make it possible to stop the work in silos, therefore to consult with all the groups: the police, the lawyers, the prosecutors to try to prevent intra-family homicides”, mentions Mr. Guèvremont.

These include, but are not limited to, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), the Crime Victims Assistance Center (CAVAC), Côté Cour, correctional services, the Director of Criminal Prosecutions and (DPCP), the CIUSSS, including bodies such as the Director of Youth Protection (DPJ), shelters for women victims of domestic violence, groups working with perpetrators of violence and crisis centres.

The cell's partner organizations undertake to share and receive crucial and relevant information when a situation represents an imminent risk to the safety of a victim of domestic violence and their family, as well as to coordinate their actions in order to to prevent it within 24 to 48 hours depending on the level of danger.

“When a cell is triggered, given that there is an imminent risk, there is a lifting of confidentiality for various aspects related to security”, specifies Guylaine Simard.

She believes that the concerted action cell will greatly help to avoid femicides and infanticides, whether or not accompanied by suicide, in the metropolis. “It increases our chances of saving women and their children,” she said. We won't be able to prevent them all if we don't know about them, but it allows other players, and not just shelters, to trigger crisis units.”

< p>This month, two feminicides occurred in Quebec. In 2021, 26 women were killed, 17 of them in a context of domestic violence, a peak not reached for 13 years.

We really want to provide a safety net around victims of domestic violence, their children and their spouse or ex-spouse.

Isabelle Charest, Minister of the Status of Women

Special Montreal situation

During the ceremony, the participants insisted on the challenge of creating a crisis cell on the territory of the island of Montreal because of its size and the diversity of its population. “We were aware that it would not be an easy task to set up such a cell in Montreal, but our leitmotif has always been that complexity does not justify inaction”, underlined the coordinator of the Table de concertation en violence conjugale, Monica Dunn .

It was clear to the Table that it was necessary to avoid adding a new structure that would weigh down or further complicate the intervention. “This is why the structure proposed today is that of 'one island, one cell',” said Ms. Dunn.

For the director of Maison Dalauze, Danielle Mongeau, having a crisis unit in Montreal was almost an “unreachable dream”. “The impact of having such a cell can really be to break the isolation of work teams who often feel very helpless in the face of high-risk homicidal situations,” she said.

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