Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale was in Regina once again Friday this time to announce funding for a major study being conducted at the University of Regina.
The federal government is committing just under $1 Million to help the criminal justice system with the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and help those with FASD get the supports they need in the court process.
Goodale said FASD causes a great deal of pressure on the justice system due to the cognitive difficulties it imposes on those who have it.
“For them to simply understand what’s happened and why they are where they are, what the rules in the system are, and how their disability affects what happens to them through the system is a huge challenge.”
Associate professor Michelle Stewart said she’s unsure of how many people this could help.
“What we hope is that the people we are working with are impacted, and so I’m hoping that over the course of three years that we’re going to see dozens of people impacted in the first couple of years,” Stewart said. “Hopefully, we have a ripple effect from there, because what I think we need is more funding of this nature to continue to increase people’s ability to be in the community in a supported fashion.”
Stewart said the support needed for those who suffer from FASD is quite extensive.
“Having someone that goes with you to your Legal Aid meetings, takes notes for you, sits down after your Legal Aid meeting, talks to you about what the meeting was about, gets your input,” Sewart said. “Gives you time to think about what that meeting was about because those are fast meetings for someone with a cognitive disability, and then circling back and keeping track of when is the next meeting, what other things do we need to do to get you ready for court.”
While the study is based at the U of R, there will be a portion of their study done near Whitehorse, Yukon.