Budget 2022 reverses cuts made in 2002, supporting survivors of sexual assault with $22 million to provide stable funding for community-based sexual assault response services.
Starting in 2023-24, the Province will provide annual funding of more than $10 million to service providers who offer victim-centred, trauma-informed, co-ordinated, cross-sector support to survivors of sexual assault.
“Sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence have devastating impacts on survivors, and that’s why government is helping people get the supports they need,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Nearly 20 years to the day after the previous government chose to eliminate stable annual funding for sexual assault response services, we announced we’re restoring this critical funding so service providers can get back to focusing on providing the care survivors need.”
Every week in B.C., there are an estimated 1,000 physical or sexual assaults against women. Indigenous women and girls, people of colour, 2SLGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities are disproportionately targeted.
The decision to cut stable funding to these critical services forced community-based services providers to spend their time reapplying for funding and fundraising to make up the shortfall, making it harder to provide services for survivors. The funding announced today will allow consistent provision of sexual assault services for survivors, and will support the delivery of co-ordinated, community-based emergency sexual assault response services in regions throughout the province. In the coming months, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General will work to establish a process for allocating the new funding.
"Our province should be a safe place, yet more than half of B.C. women have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 16,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Having been on the front line supporting survivors, I know how hard it is to provide sexual assault response services that are trauma-informed, survivor-centred and culturally appropriate when you don’t know where your next round of funding is coming from. Our commitment to supporting survivors and ending gender-based violence means we must recognize the value of experienced and compassionate community-based service providers who deserve stable annual funding to do their work.”
Stable funding for sexual assault centres is just one component of a multi-year action plan to end gender-based violence being developed by the Ministry of Finance’s Gender Equity Office and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Focused engagement will begin on March 8, 2022, to inform the ongoing development of the action plan.
Ninu Kang, executive director, Ending Violence Association of BC –
"We applaud this government’s continued commitment to the provision of support for survivors of sexual violence across B.C. We applaud, too, those who work to provide the essential services in communities, large and small, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. It is this collective effort, everyone working together, with stable funding, that will make the most difference in the lives of survivors.”
Elijah Zimmerman, executive director, Victoria Sexual Assault Centre –
“Survivors often carry not only the trauma of a specific act of sexualized violence, but also the trauma of receiving no support, or support that further shames or isolates them. I’m inspired by this work because a healing path of dignity and respect is possible and we can transform our communities and systems toward better practices of prevention. Working to end sexualized violence uplifts us all.”
- Girls and young women under 25 have the highest rates of police-reported sexual assault in Canada, accounting for more than half of victims.
- The rate of self-reported sexual assault among Indigenous women is almost three times that of non-Indigenous women.
- People with disabilities, especially women with mental disabilities, are also at a higher risk of being sexually assaulted.
- The number of police-reported sexual assaults is known to be a vast under-representation of sexual assaults in B.C., with most survivors never involving police.
- Sexualized violence can be a form of intimate-partner violence. The Cridge Centre for the Family cites that as many as 90% of women who have been in a violent relationship have received at least one brain injury from their partner.
- In addition to this funding, the B.C. government provides more than $42 million annually to support more than 400 victim-service and violence-against-women programs.
- This new funding builds on the $20 million in provincial funding provided over the past two years for the Emergency Sexual Assault Services grant program.
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
For more information on funding announced in 2021 to support community-based sexual assault response services, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PSSG0045-001030
For more information on funding announced in 2020 to support community-based sexual assault response service programs, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PSSG0033-000947
For detailed profiles on 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 statistics on violence against women in B.C., visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/public-safety/domestic-violence
To learn more about the Ending Violence Association of BC, visit: https://endingviolence.org/