By Stephanie Cadieux
Minister of Children and Family Development
Dec. 5, 2012
VICTORIA - Today we remember the young women who needlessly lost their lives in a shocking act of violence at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal on Dec. 6, 1989.
Twenty-three years ago, our nation was stopped in its tracks as 14 women were murdered in a brutal act of female-focused violence. Reflecting on that tragedy, we must not forget that for many women, children and families, violence remains a daily reality.
This day is a sobering reminder of the ongoing need to condemn violence against women in all its forms. It is also an opportunity for all of us to consider what we can do to help those affected and how we can work together to prevent crimes against women and girls before they happen.
The B.C. government commits more than $70 million annually to key prevention and intervention services and supports that are designed to help protect families impacted by domestic violence and other crimes. We continue to support female victims of violence through more than 100 transition-house programs and over 400 victim-service and violence-against-women counselling and outreach programs.
We recognize that too many women in B.C. continue to live with violence and its repercussions - in their communities, in their workplaces and in their homes.
Due to feelings of isolation, fear, and intimidation, many women do not speak up if they are being abused at home. They live in fear and therefore do not seek the help they need. That's something we must change.
We established a Provincial Office of Domestic Violence last March as the permanent lead for the B.C. government, which is focussed on improving co-ordination amongst government and community service providers to strengthen the services and supports available for those impacted by domestic violence.
On Oct. 10, we released our initial action plan, Taking Action on Domestic Violence in British Columbia. The plan responds to recommendations from B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth, and lays out key actions with targets and timelines for completion. Those actions include providing training on recognizing and responding to domestic violence to more than 20,000 school personnel and community partners, and enhancing the ability of health-care workers, police and Crown counsel to identify and follow up on potential risks to children in homes where domestic violence may be an issue.
This important work builds on steps we've already taken and helps lay a course towards a seamless, co-ordinated approach that will address gaps and strengthen domestic violence supports across the child and family-serving systems in B.C. It also sets the stage for the development of a three-year, comprehensive provincial plan to address domestic violence over the long term. The plan, which will be ready for implementation next year, will include approaches to support the needs of women with disabilities, immigrant and refugee women, and will include an Aboriginal-specific strategy to address domestic violence.
Extensive consultation with experts and service providers from throughout B.C. is taking place to ensure the voices of the anti-violence community are heard and considered. Broader public consultation will begin in the new year to help us build the three-year plan.
We continue to support victims of violence and are working diligently to improve service delivery so all women, children and families throughout British Columbia can feel safe and free of fear. However, we know there is much more for us to do. We need to work together if we are to achieve our goals. Every single one of us has a part to play in raising awareness, speaking out and putting an end to violence against women in B.C.
If you are at risk of violence, or know someone who is, support is available at any time. Call your local police or access help by calling VictimLink BC - our toll-free, confidential telephone service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in more than 110 languages, at 1 800 563-0808. Important information is also available online at: www.victimlinkbc.ca and: www.domesticviolencebc.ca