Emerging Issues

The Importance of Addressing Intimate Partner Violence: Declaring IPV an Epidemic

June 29, 2023

One year ago today, at a coroner’s inquest into the 2015 deaths of Nathalie Warmerdam, Carol Culleton and Anastasia Kuzyk in Renfrew County, the jury made 86 recommendations aimed at preventing future tragedies. One of the recommendations was that the Ontario government declare intimate partner violence (IPV) and epidemic.

The Ontario government has been slow to respond to the recommendations and 26 regions, municipalities and counting have made the move to declare IPV an epidemic after seeing a drastic increase in IPV cases and dwindling funding for IPV services. For example, Ottawa, Renfrew County, Lanark County, Halton, Durham, Ajax, Whitby, Clarington, and Peel region, among others, have all declared IPV an epidemic and are calling on the Ontario government to do the same.

A year after the recommendations, the Ontario government is finally responding saying that while they appreciate the intent of the recommendation to declare an epidemic, IPV is not an infectious or communicable disease. Another recommendation they have declined to establish is creating an intimate partner violence commission and the role of a survivor advocate, on the grounds that it would duplicate existing systems.

The Ontario government notes that it is working on many of the recommendations, including exploring ways to allow people to find out if their partner has a history of intimate partner violence, better information sharing between police services, courts, and the rest of the justice system, reviewing training for crown attorneys, victim/witness program staff, police and correctional staff, and increasing funding and effectiveness of the partner assault response program aimed at giving perpetrators tools to resolve conflict without violence. But is this enough, how long will this reviewing and/or making changes take? How will this impact victims/survivors? What about those experiencing IPV right now, during extreme inflation rates, high grocery costs and a housing crisis?

Intimate partner violence services, such as shelters and counselling services receive core funding from the provincial government that is intended to cover the organizations core operating costs. But in reality, shelters rely heavily on grants and donations to subsidize needs related to core operating costs and programming. Lack of funding has a direct impact on organizations’ ability to serve their communities. Additional funding from the federal government during the pandemic has been pulled back, despite the continued rise in numbers of IPV cases.

Advocates are aiming to address certain resource gaps. More accessible food, shelter and counselling would be a great start, but core funding is necessary to connect victims to these resources. Declaring IPV an epidemic would mean prioritizing and investing in IPV prevention education and addressing IPV at all levels. It would go a long way in helping victims/survivors feel less shame and know that the seriousness of what they have experienced or are experiencing is heard and understood and that our governments are committed to addressing it.


What can you do?

Ask your City Council representative to bring forward a motion to declare IPV an epidemic.



Here is a link to a fillable letter requesting IPV be declared an epidemic, add your name, sign at the end, and email it to your council representative.


Not sure who your City Council representative is?

To find out who your city council member is, google your city or town’s “name” and “council members”. Each municipality’s website will look different.

Below are some examples of how to search for and find your city councillors:

If you live in London, you can type in “London city council members”. The first page that pops up is titled “City Council|City of London”. Click the link and then “Ward Map” and you will be able to view each ward and the councillor for that ward will be listed. On the previous page you can click “Learn More” to find your ward councillor’s email address, which is where you will send the letter requesting that your municipality declare IPV an epidemic. 

If you live in Brantford, you can type in “Brantford city council members”. The first page that pops up is titled “City Council – City of Brantford”. On this page, the ward map can be found by clicking “five wards”. Below the sentence that says, “five words”, you can see a list of “Brantford Ward Councillors”. Councillors’ names and email addresses are listed within the ward they are representing.

If you live in Hamilton, you can type in “Hamilton city councillors”. The first page that comes up is titled “City Council Members | City of Hamilton. Click on this page and then “City Councillors”. All Hamilton City Councillors will appear. If you click on a ward (ex. Ward 1) you can view the ward profile which is a map of the ward by clicking on the blue box titled “View Ward 1 Profile”). Below that blue box, you will find the councillors’ information, including their email addresses. 

If you live in Toronto, you can type in “Toronto city councillors”. The first page that comes up is titled “Members of Council – City of Toronto”. Clink on this page. Under “Find Your Councillor” type in your address and click “Lookup Address”. The map below will show you your ward. Click on your highlighted ward and your city council members name will appear. Click on their name and you will find their contact information to the left of the page, including their email address.

Once you have found your city councillor’s email address, you can address the fillable IPV letter template to them, add your name, sign at the end, and email it to your council representative.