B.C. announces new funding to help sexual assault survivors

B.C. announces new funding to help sexual assault survivors
Province of BC
Minister Mike Farnworth announces new funding for sexual assault survivors in BC

The BC Government has announced new funding for survivors of sexual assault through a three-year, $10 million grant program.

The program, unveiled on Tuesday by Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, is aimed at supporting the delivery of co-ordinated emergency sexual assault response services in regions throughout the province.

“Gender-based violence, including sexual assault, can increase during times of crisis, and that’s why our government continues to prioritize services and supports for survivors of these devastating crimes,” said Farnworth. “This grant program will help organizations throughout the province provide sexual assault survivors with swift access to compassionate and comprehensive care.”

According to a BC Government press release, the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) has received the funding to administer the grant program, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the Ministry of Finance – Gender Equity Office and the Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women (MACIW).

The new program will help organizations deliver emergency sexual assault response services that are “trauma-informed and culturally appropriate.”

In addition, the BC Government said the services will meet the needs of sexual assault survivors around the province, including the unique needs of Indigenous communities.

“Sexual assault strikes at the heart of a person’s sense of safety and autonomy. It can cause lifelong trauma if people can’t access the supports they need to heal. I’ve worked supporting people who have faced violence for most of my career and I know first-hand that it’s essential for people who have been sexually assaulted to have the services they need when they need them,” said Tracy Porteous, executive director of EVA BC.

EVA BC is an anti-violence organization that supports community coordination in responding to violence against women, while also offering training, information and victim service programs. The government feels that EVA BC is well-positioned to administer this grant program.

“For the past 18 years, EVA BC has been in dialogue with the Province about the status of sexual assault response in B.C. and the need for specific services for survivors,” said Elba Bendo, director of law reform, West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund.

“This move today by our government will provide survivors with the emergency care they need to begin to heal, and we look most forward to working with community anti-violence services, Indigenous communities and the Province to further the network of support for survivors in B.C.”

According to the Province, they currently fund a range of services to support the victims of sexual violence – providing more than $40 million in annual funding to support over 400 victim service and violence against women programs. The new $10 million grant program will be in addition to services already in place.

“Today’s funding announcement is a welcome step in the right direction and has the potential to significantly improve access to justice for survivors of sexual assault,” said Barbara Ward-Burkitt, chair of the MACIW.

According to the government release, sexual assault disproportionately impacts women, girls and LGBTQ2S+ people. Indigenous women and girls are especially at risk of being targeted.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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