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Supporting survivors of sexual and domestic violence

The Government of Alberta is introducing legislation today that would increase access to the legal system for survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

Supporting survivors of sexual and domestic violence

(L-R): Debra Tomlinson, CEO, Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services; Elizabeth Halpin, survivor; Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General; Mary Jane James, Executive Director, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton

If passed, Bill 2, An Act to Remove Barriers for Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence, would amend existing legislation to remove time limits to bring forward civil claims.

“By eliminating limitation periods, we are making space for survivors of sexual and domestic violence to come forward when they are ready. We respect the time it may take to do this. If passed, Bill 2 will improve the lives of these Albertans.”

Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

Currently, the Limitations Act specifies that any civil claim arising from an assault must be started within two years from when the person knows of the incident.

If passed, Bill 2 would remove limitation periods for the following types of claims:

  • sexual assault
  • sexual misconduct involving a minor, intimate relationship or dependant
  • non-sexual assault involving a minor, intimate relationship or dependant

“This change in legislation increases the opportunities for those who have experienced sexual assault to find justice. This gives survivors another avenue to seek reparation while holding those who commit sexual assault accountable.”

Debra Tomlinson, CEO, Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services

The proposed changes recognize that it can take survivors much longer to come forward with claims, for a variety of reasons.

“This bill may open up a chapter of my life that I thought was over a long time ago. I hope it will bring closure and healing to many survivors who have lived through trauma and are still dealing with the far-reaching impacts of sexual violence.”

Elizabeth Halpin, survivor

“We have been working with Edmontonians who have experienced sexual violence for over four decades, and we know that no two healing journeys are the same. We are incredibly thrilled to be able to tell our clients that they no longer have a time limit to commence a civil claim, if they so wish.” 

Mary Jane James, Executive Director, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton

Eliminating limitation periods for sexual assault would put Alberta in line with most provinces. However, Alberta would lead the nation in addressing sexual misconduct in intimate relationships, as no other jurisdiction in Canada expressly states this in legislation.

“Domestic violence survivors who come to the YWCA are looking for immediate assistance finding basic services: housing, income assistance, schools for their children and psychological support.  The last thing on their mind is seeking legal recourse from their violators. This new legislation will allow survivors to pursue justice when they are ready and able to do so.”

Jackie Foord, CEO, YWCA Edmonton


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