Letter to Attorney-General asking for much needed support for sexual assault services.

The Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General

Dear Minister Downey,

AWH is a non-partisan coalition of community groups located in the Region of Halton, which seeks to promote the advancement of women by developing and supporting social, political, cultural and economic strategies to achieve gender equality municipally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

As you will know the #MeToo movement has meant that the number of women who feel safe enough to disclose rape or sexual assault and seek support and counselling has increased worldwide.  This includes women living in the communities of Halton.

In September 2019 Statistics Canada released its findings of Incident Based Crime Statistics.  They reported that sexual assault in Ontario rose from 7,434 incidents in 2016 to 10, 634 in 2018.  (These numbers are underestimates, as many rape and sexual assault survivors do not come forward and engage in the criminal justice system.)

In Halton SAVIS (Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Service) offers walk-in/drop-in services, short term crisis support and short-term counselling and partners with community social services to create new and increased frontline resources.

In 2019, recognising the situation of rape and sexual assault survivors, the Ministry of the Attorney General allocated $1 million dollars in one-time funding, distributed to 42 sexual assault centres across Ontario.  This funding (roughly $25,000 per centre) made an enormous difference to the service SAVIS was able to offer, allowing them to hire additional part-time counsellors and reduce wait times for survivors.  However, the one-time funding  comes to an end on March 31st, 2020, with no additional resources.  SAVIS estimates that, as a result, their waitlist for services to survivors will increase to 10 months.

We are concerned that women who are raped and sexual assault survivors will not be given the opportunity to heal and, ultimately, to participate in making this a better community for all.

AWH urges you to:

  • Annualize the $1million in additional one-time funding to sexual assault centres initiated in 2019.
  • Provide stable core funding for community based sexual assault centres that meets the needs of survivors of sexual violence in a timely and effective way
  • Invest in community-based primary prevention.

Sincerely,

Tina Agrell, Chair Advancement of Women Halton

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