$5 million in new funding for sexual assault service centres and a 24-7 tele-health link
EDMONTON, AB (March 8, 2019): Alberta has the unwelcome distinction of having among all the provinces, the third worst record of sexual assaults. More than one seventh of all sexual assaults reported in Canada, were committed here.
Today, United Conservative party deputy leader Leela Aheer stated, “To combat sexual assault and provide service to survivors of sexual violence,
I am proud to announce that a United Conservative government will commit $5 million in new funding, of which $3.5 million will be directed to the sexual assault service centres that provide counseling, support, and advocacy for those who most need it on their journey to healing.”
Aheer’s announcement comes in the wake of two pledges by UCP leader Jason Kenney to improve protection for Alberta women. Three weeks ago, he announced an Action Plan to Fight Human Trafficking including the Saving the Girl Next Door Act which would empower victims of trafficking to get restraining orders against their abusers and would allow victims to sue traffickers.
Last week, he announced that under a UCP government, Alberta would have its own version of Clare’s Law, Saskatchewan legislation that will allow police to inform women who want to know, whether their partner has a history of sexual violence.
“I am glad to say that the protection of vulnerable women is dear to the heart of the leader of the United Conservative Party, my friend, Jason Kenney,” she added. “It is to mine as well.”
Aheer noted that Albertans across the province share her concerns.
“However, the numbers speak for themselves. Alberta has a bad record of sexual abuse. It’s not somebody else’s problem, it’s ours. And we have to do what Albertans want us to do, and fix it. We need to tackle reducing the number of women who are sexually assaulted with as much intensity as any other serious issue in the province,” she added.
The balance of the $5 million in new funding, after grants to the sexual assault service centres, will go to improving service to victims in remote and rural areas, where time, distance and cultural issues may impair the successful handling of reports of sexual assault.
“In particular,” said Aheer, “we need to improve the collection and storage of sexual assault evidence. At present, procedures are not applied consistently and specialized knowledge is not available everywhere. This means women who are already traumatized, feel pressured into making hasty decisions to press charges, or abandon them altogether. We want to have a third option, that involves collecting and storing evidence while a victim considers what they want to do.”
Aheer said training would be a major part of the package, together with a 24/hour line to a duty sexual assault nurse examiner, and ensuring that all police stations have sexual assault evidence kits.
Aheer and Kenney have met with the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services who say the number of people reporting incidents of sexual assault has increased significantly. This is supported by Statistics Canada data that says: