N.B. has highest rate of family murder-suicides in the country
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick has the highest rate of "family-related murder-suicides" in the country.
It's an issue the province says it needs to address and it's turning to other Atlantic provinces for help.
Pointe-Sapin, Oak Bay, and Rothesay are just a few communities rocked by murder-suicides over the last six months in New Brunswick.
"I worked in victim services in the 90s and domestic violence was prevalent then," said Sherry Wilson, New Brunswick's Minister Responsible for Women's Equality.
Since then, Wilson says the issue of family-related violence has only gotten worse in the province.
"We have to do better as a province, as government, to identify, what are the challenges?" Wilson said. "Why is this still happening? Why has it increased?"
In addition to having the most family-related murder suicides in the country, more people are killed by their partners in New Brunswick than in any other Maritime province.
Premier Blaine Higgs mentioned the issue last week during his meeting with other Atlantic premiers, and they all agreed to set up a domestic homicide review network.
"This is key in finding an Atlantic strategy that, hopefully in the long-run, will reduce the current trend that it's going -- increasing, compared to the rest of the Canada," said Miguel Leblanc, the executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers.
Once a coroner has completed their report into a domestic homicide, a committee, made up of representatives from each province, will review the circumstances surrounding the death and if anything could have been done to prevent it.
This is something that social workers say is critical.
"Social workers do work with a lot of the victims," Leblanc said. "It's a difficult and challenging issue to work on, and if we can develop proper prevention approaches, a bit that's based on evidence and research, this will help us."
In other provinces, these networks have sparked change.
In Saskatchewan, police are now allowed to warn a person of their partner's violent history.
Some have educated people on warning signs to watch out for if they suspect a loved one is in a violent relationship.
"These things are happening," Wilson said. "How did it happen? (We need to) ask the questions so we can identify what causes this, and maybe take action and do something about it."
Research on this issue differs from province to province, so this network will also study these homicides for patterns, and try to establish a better picture of just how serious the issue of family-related violence is in the Atlantic provinces.