Getting a protection order

If your employee fears for her safety or the safety of her children, she can get a protection order against the abuser.  A protection order outlines certain conditions that the abuser must follow to keep your employee and her children safe, such as stating that her partner or ex-partner can have no direct or indirect contact with her and/or your children.

Usually the partner or ex-partner will be told to stay away from the place where she lives and works. This includes no phone calls, letters, or messages through relatives or friends or co-workers.  There are two main types of protection orders - Restraining Orders and Peace Bonds.

What are the differences between a restraining order and a peace bond?

Restraining Order

Peace Bond

Set out in Family Court with a Judge

Set out in Criminal Court with a Justice of the Peace (JP)

Doesn’t cover threats to or actual damage of property

Considers threats to or acts that damage your property, as well as personal threats and acts of violence to you or family members

Length varies: usually lasts for several months; but, could also be for only a few days or could be a permanent order depending on the Judge’s ruling

Can last up to 12 months but needs to be renewed after one year

You must have a family connection (married; living together, currently or in the past)

Can be applied to anyone, including someone you have had a dating relationship with

You can apply for a Restraining Order without a lawyer; but this is not recommended.

You do not need a lawyer to apply for a Peace Bond.  You can go to the police and they will apply for you and the Crown Counsel (a lawyer employed by the government) will handle your case in court.  You can also apply directly to the Justice of the Peace.

There is no cost for applying for a Restraining Order but you will need to pay lawyer fees

There is no cost for applying for a Peace Bond

If the Restraining Order is broken, the abuser will be charged with a provincial offence and he will go to criminal court to deal with the new charge.

A Peace Bond is not a criminal offence but breaking the order can result in a criminal charge.

How to get a Restraining Order

Usually an application for a restraining order is given during a larger court proceeding in Family Court, like child custody or divorce proceedings; but someone can apply for just a restraining order.  The process of applying for a restraining order may take many months.  It requires a formal submission and a hearing where evidence is shown and both people can present their side to the judge.

The Judge must believe that the fear of the person requesting the order is reasonable.  S/he will ask for evidence that supports the request for a restraining order.  Acceptable evidence would include:

  • A documented account of every time the person has stalked or threatened you,
  • Hospital records, pictures, emails, text messages, phone messages,
  • If it applies, any evidence that he has hurt the children.

If someone is in an extremely urgent and dangerous situation, they can receive an ex parte Restraining Order.  The Judge can give the order right away once s/he is convinced that the fear is reasonable.  This type of Restraining Order usually lasts between 24 hours and one week during which the partner or ex-partner will be contacted.  The person with the restraining order and the partner or ex-partner will have to appear in court to state their claims to the Judge.  If the Judge believes that there are still serious safety concerns, the ex parte order can be replaced with a regular Restraining Order.

For more information see: A Self-Help Guide: How to make an application for a restraining order, produced by Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, 2009. This guide is meant to help people who are experiencing violence in their families to apply for a restraining order through the family court.

How to get a Peace Bond

Someone can get a Peace Bond by calling your local police and telling them that they need a Peace Bond or going directly to a Justice of the Peace (JP) at the provincial court.  If the JP feels that the concerns are valid, s/he will issue a summons for the partner or ex-partner to appear in court at a certain date.  At this court date, the person applying for the Peace Bond and the partner or ex-partner will make their claims to the JP.  The person applying for the Peace Bond should have evidence that supports their claims such as:

  • A documented account of every time the person has stalked or threatened them
  • Hospital records, pictures, emails, text messages, phone messages;
  • If it applies, any evidence that he has hurt the children,
  • A documented account of every time the (ex)partner damaged or threatened to damage property (take pictures, if possible).

If the JP believes that the fear is reasonable, s/he will issue a Peace Bond that can last for one year.

Protection Orders can be difficult to enforce if:

  • Police are reluctant to enforce the order
  • There have been past unreported breaches
  • There are conflicts with Bail Orders or other Protection Orders
  • The Order has unclear wording or no enforcement clause

Here are some strategies to help enforce these orders:

  • Have a copy of the order at the workplace
  • Never allow the partner or ex-partner to contact your employee at the workplace,
  • Always report and document breaches
  • If you feel the police do not respond appropriately to a breach of the order, talk to the supervisor.

See more information on Peace Bonds, produced by Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime.

For more information on threat assessment, see the Make It Our Business Suggested Guidelines for Threat Assessment and Risk Management in the Workplace.