Cops link domestic violence spike to economic downturn

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Calgary police say a two-year spike in domestic violence calls is no coincidence as jobs in the province continue to disappear. It’s a trend that will likely get worse before it gets better as more Albertans fall victim to region’s ongoing economic woes, as well as the devastating impact of the wildfire that continues to threaten the province’s biggest employers near the oilsands hub of Fort McMurray.

“We know there is a connection between increased unemployment and increased domestic violence as people who are already prone to violence are home more and are facing significant stressors – and that is likely what we are seeing in Calgary,” said Staff Sergeant Rob Davidson with the Calgary Police Service Domestic Conflict Unit.

Reports of domestic violence increased 10 per cent in 2015 from the year before in Calgary. Incidents involving weapons jumped 70 per cent year-over-year.

Alberta lost more jobs than the rest of Canada combined in April, according to Statistics Canada. The federal agency says while employment dropped by nearly 21,000 jobs since March, the jobless rate moved only slightly as more Albertans gave up on looking for work.

Kim Ruse, the executive director of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, says her crisis phone line has seen calls rise by as much as 300 per cent this year.

“It’s very frightening. I hear from my staff all the time that it’s not just the numbers we are seeing increasing. We are also seeing the complexity increase and the situations become much more difficult to deal with, including more use of weapons and extreme violence,” she said in an interview with CTV News Channel.

Ruse says she had to reallocate staff and find ways to support victims in the community rather than in the shelter because of the rise in demand.

“We know that we can’t to this along. We work very closely with agency partners and stakeholders to make sure we are leveraging all of our strengths and our resources to make sure that we are doing the very best we can to meet the demand,” she said.

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