Report estimates domestic violence has cost Alberta over $600M over five years

On Tuesday, June 5, 2012 we released a new research report: Preventing Domestic Violence in Alberta: A Cost Savings Perspective. The report is co-authored by Lana Wells, Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence at the University of Calgary and founder of Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence, Casey Boodt and Herb Emery. The report examines the costs of domestic violence in Alberta after women have left their abusive relationships. The study estimates that conservatively, $600 million dollars is spent over 5 years in Alberta on a select number of costs that are directly attributable to domestic violence after women have left their abusive situations. These costs include accessing basic health services, emergency room and hospital visits, counselling, employment insurance and social assistance. Once the costs for police, legal and court costs, lost time at work and the devastating effects that witnessing domestic violence has on children are factored in, the total cost of addressing domestic violence in Alberta could be up to $1 billion over 5 years. “The impact of domestic violence continues long after a woman leaves an abusive relationship,” Wells said today. “That’s why preventative measures are so important to save families from the devastating effects and costs of domestic violence in the first place.” The study highlights how cost-effective prevention strategies can reduce the economic burden domestic violence has on individuals and society as a whole. Some promising practices mentioned in the report that could be adapted to Alberta include a mother’s advocacy program that offers support for women screened to be at-risk of domestic violence and home visitation programs where registered nurses make regular visits to at-risk women early in pregnancy and through to their child’s second birthday. For each case of domestic violence that is prevented, the report states there is a savings of $13,162 in “downstream” intervention costs, which include women’s shelters, emergency room visits, police, justice, etc. The study estimates that a 10 percent reduction of family violence through prevention efforts could yield a net cost-benefit of $54 million per year in Alberta.