B.C. is ramping up safety and supports for survivors of gender-based violence with a new three-year action plan released on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023.
“We have a great deal of work underway in B.C. to help address the systemic issue of gender-based violence,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Finance. “Today, we move forward with our next steps, in alignment with our partners and community service providers, in supporting survivors and making our communities safer.”
Safe and Supported: B.C.’s Gender-Based Violence Action Plan reports on vital work underway across government and actions that will be coming next year and beyond. The actions include boosting programming and supports for survivors, strengthening government’s response to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and ramping up prevention and awareness campaigns. Initiatives were developed in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous partners, and with advice from community service providers and advocates.
The federal government is committing $61.9 million in new investments over four years for the plan under a new Canada-British Columbia bilateral agreement to end gender-based violence announced Dec. 8, 2023. This funding will help reduce critical wait lists, build capacity for community-based services, and address gaps for underserved communities. More than half of new funding will be invested in Indigenous-led initiatives to be announced in the coming months.
“We are working together to end isolation, stigma and apathy when it comes to gender-based violence, and make sure survivors can access the care and supports they need,” said Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “With this action plan, we are lifting up Indigenous-led approaches, breaking cycles of violence and working with communities to strengthen safety and supports for survivors.”
The new funding will contribute to transformational investments already underway in B.C., including: $1.2 billion over 10 years to create safe spaces and housing for women and children leaving violence; expanded cell service to make travel safer; 75 new sexual assault programs, including five sexual assault centres; new 24/7 crisis lines; new policing standards; and stronger victim supports and other programming supported by more than $60 million from the Province each year for gender-based violence supports and services.
“This action plan builds on new victim-centred and trauma-informed policing standards we’ve put in place to support survivors and respond to gender-based violence,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Everyone deserves fair and empathetic treatment after they have experienced devastating trauma, supports that are critical while we work towards a world where every woman, girl and gender-diverse person is able to live free from violence.”
The plan recognizes that gender-based violence is highly pervasive. Indigenous women and girls, and other racialized people, newcomers and 2SLGBTQIA+ people are especially affected by violence, as well as those living in poverty, in rural and remote communities, and those living with disabilities.
In particular, addressing the national crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people requires commitment and action from all levels of government. The Safe and Supported plan moves critical work forward in response to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the 231 calls for justice.
The action plan has been informed by perspectives and recommendations from Indigenous leaders, community members, service providers, advocates, and survivors and their families. To continue to support collaboration in addressing gender-based violence, B.C. is expanding the mandate of the Gender-Based Violence Action Plan Advisory Committee, which was established in 2022 to provide guidance and feedback. The advisory committee, comprised of Indigenous partners, community service providers and advocates, will work with government to learn and monitor progress throughout the life of the plan.
Based on the advice of Indigenous partners and the advisory committee, B.C. will continue to strengthen initiatives and identify further actions in the future years of this three-year plan. To best meet the needs of survivors and service providers, Safe and Supported will be updated on an ongoing basis. A key foundation of the plan is continuous learning to monitor progress.
The Province also works collaboratively with the federal government and responds to priorities that support Canada’s recently released National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence.
To read the Gender-Based Violence Action Plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/SafeandSupported_GenderBasedViolenceActionPlan_Dec2023.pdf
To read A Path Forward: Priorities and Early Strategies for B.C., B.C.’s response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/law-crime-and-justice/about-bc-justice-system/inquiries/mmiw/mmiwg-status-update-2023.pdf
To learn about StrongerBC Safe Communities, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/safer-communities
Four backgrounders follow.