To continue taking action and making steady progress towards protecting the safety and security of vulnerable women in B.C., government is making available up to $1 million in targeted grant funding and committing to examining the structure and funding of policing in the province.
Starting today, projects that prevent the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of vulnerable girls and women will be eligible to apply for the up to $1 million in civil forfeiture grant funds available this year. Funding will provide communities with assistance to address these issues at a local level, where vulnerable young women can be exploited and trafficked.
In addition, B.C. is also beginning a multi-phase project to examine how policing is currently structured and funded. Beginning in the coming months, the project will engage municipal leaders and police agencies, working to better define federal, provincial and municipal policing responsibilities, including funding. It will lay the groundwork for exploring new service delivery models while retaining local, community-focused policing.
As government moves forward in fulfilling the spirit of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (MWCI) recommendations, B.C. will be engaging with key stakeholders to seek their advice and expertise. The MWCI report will serve as the blueprint for this overall direction.
These are the latest steps in government's response to the MWCI recommendations, all of which are detailed in a status report also released today. The report shows that since the release of the MWCI report, work has already been completed or is underway on half of the recommendations directed at the Province.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
"We've made significant progress already and we will continue to do so, in order to ensure the tragedies of the women who were murdered or went missing are never forgotten, and to help prevent something like this from ever happening again.
"Specifically, our government has targeted the issue of vulnerable women from many angles and we continue that today by committing up to $1 million in funding, by committing to look at the structure and funding of policing in our province and by engaging stakeholders for their advice. These actions, along with the status report, are promises our government made, and now promises our government has kept.
"Our progress on the recommendations from the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry has been significant and steady, and we know that more can and will continue to be done as we move forward."
Children of the Street Society executive director Diane Sowden -
"Civil forfeiture funding has helped our organization engage with high-risk youth in the community, some of whom had been victims of sexual exploitation, and allowed us to address the issue directly, at the local level. With this grant in partnership with other funders, Children of the Street Society was able to provide an art project that encourages victims to express their thoughts and emotions creatively as part of their healing process. Projects like these can be a lifeline for young people to express themselves in a positive way who may otherwise be fearful of expressing themselves or doing so in negative ways."
- Substantive changes have taken place since the period of time under review by the MWCI, including significant reforms in policing practices, and national, provincial and local-level initiatives to prevent violence against vulnerable women and examine issues related to the investigation and prosecution of cases involving the serial murder of women.
- Government invested $9.9 million in the MWCI which delivered a six volume, 1,400-page report to government in December 2012 after a two year inquiry that involved 90 days of public hearings.
- The Crime Victim Assistance Program has provided approximately $1.44 million in compensation to family members of missing women in the Pickton case. Counselling services continue to be available for family members.
- Application process details for the civil forfeiture grants are available at: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/crimeprevention/grants
- The latest round of civil forfeiture grants will be shared by projects that focus on youth crime prevention, the development and enhancement of Domestic Violence Units, and the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of vulnerable girls and women.
- Since B.C.'s civil forfeiture program became active in 2006, it has returned more than $11 million from successful forfeiture actions to crime prevention programs and to victims of fraud and phony investment schemes. The Civil Forfeiture Act was brought in to suppress unlawful activity and take away the profit motive.
- In March 2013, the Children of the Street Society received a $25,000 civil forfeiture grant for an educational art project that increased the awareness of sexual exploitation among high-risk youth between 11 and 18 years old.
- The Civil Forfeiture Act allows the Province to seek forfeiture of property that is alleged to have been used to commit, or is the proceeds of, unlawful activity.
- Of the more than 1,770 cases police have referred to the civil forfeiture program, the CFO has acted on over 1,400. Of those, approximately one half are concluded. Today, more than 510 cases are ongoing.
To read the Province's Status Report on FORSAKEN - The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, see:http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/public_inquiries/docs/BCGovStatusReport.pdf
Children of the Street Society:http://www.childrenofthestreet.com
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice