Listening and learning from service providers, such as the Prince George Sexual Assault Centre, is part of work to develop a provincial action plan to help end gender-based violence, support survivors and promote healing, community awareness and prevention.
"We are committed to working with community-based service providers to ensure that survivors have the supports and services they need when they come forward,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “That is why our government has reversed the cuts to stable funding to sexual-assault services made in 2002. I’ve worked on the front-line supporting survivors, and I know how important it is for survivors to have immediate and long-term care and support in order to heal.”
Government provided $20 million in 2020 and 2021 to support the delivery of co-ordinated, community-based emergency sexual-assault response services.
The Prince George Sexual Assault Centre, along with the Elizabeth Fry Society, received grants to enhance services for survivors in the northern region, including around-the-clock emergency sexual-assault response, emotional and short-term crisis support, accompaniment to hospital, and safety planning.
“This funding comes at a unique time in our history, as we have seen a dramatic surge in requests for support that are directly related to the increased rates of violence due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lynnell Halikowski, executive director, Prince George Sexual Assault Centre. “This increase has resulted in our agency responding to over 10,000 calls for service in 2021-22. With increased support we can maintain our ability to provide comprehensive care regarding sexual violence and deliver public education, advocating for societal change that creates a culture free from sexual violence.”
Through the grant program, funding was also provided to the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia, and Carrier Sekani Family Services to enhance supports for Indigenous survivors in the region.
Building on $20 million previously provided, the Province has committed $10 million annually in stable, ongoing annual funding for sexual assault services, which will be awarded over the coming months using an open procurement process, with funding starting in April 2023. In addition, the B.C. government provides more than $44 million annually to support more than 400 victim service and violence-against-women programs.
Stable funding for sexual assault services is part of a multi-year action plan to help end gender-based violence that is being developed by the Ministry of Finance’s Gender Equity Office and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Government undertook focused engagement this year to inform the plan’s ongoing development.
“Our government understands the damaging effects of gender-based violence on survivors and their communities, and my ministry is working with the parliamentary secretary for gender equity to develop an action plan to end it,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “During the pandemic, violence against women and girls has intensified, and it is crucial that survivors have access to the services and supports they need. We are committed to working with community groups and we thank them for all they do to prevent gender-based violence and support those affected by it.”
For more information about stable funding announced in Budget 2022, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022PSSG0009-000299
For more information about funding announced in 2021 to support community-based sexual-assault response services, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PSSG0045-001030
For detailed profiles about some of the organizations that have received funding and their work, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/gender-equity/ending-gender-based-violence
For what to do if you or someone you know needs help, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/victims-of- crime/victimlinkbc
A backgrounder follows.