Women’s groups applaud Alberta legislation to drop 2 year limit for victims of violence to sue

Chris Stewart
APTN National News
Women’s groups in Alberta are applauding the province’s move to eliminate the time limit of when a sexual assault victim can sue a perpetrator.

The legislation, introduced in Alberta’s legislation on Tuesday, will end the two year time limit of when a victim can seek a civil case against an accused.

“I was really happy to hear that they extended it. I think it’s really important to our ladies, and gentlemen,” said Shawna Serniak, vice president of the Aboriginal Women’s Professional Association. “Whoever’s been in those situations to finally have that opportunity to still be able to be heard – even after the situation has happened.”

Serniak said some women need more than two years to be ready to pursue a civil lawsuit.

“Victims are going through a healing process. They’ve been violated. They’ve been through a horrific incident in their life. Maybe they just don’t have their voice to speak yet. They need to do it on their own comfort level. And when it is right for them,” she said.

A civil lawsuit allows victims to sue alleged perpetrators for financial damages such as lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering.

”This new legislation will help to lift that veil of silence,” said Debra Tomlinson, CEO of the association of Alberta sexual assault services. “I think it may encourage more survivors to reach out for help. But most importantly it opens another door for survivors to seek justice.”

The move to eliminate the time limit moves Alberta in line with other provinces. At the same time, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley also included a victims of domestic abuse section in the bill.

At a celebration Wednesday to celebrate International Women’s Day at Edmonton’s City Hall, the President of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, Muriel Stanley Venne said this bill would benefit all women in Alberta. Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

“I am so pleased and so grateful that we have the Government we have. They have shown by their actions that they are in favour of women as full participating citizens in this country,” she said.

Bill 2 is expected to be passed this spring.

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