The federal government announced the implementation of their National Action Plan to end gender-based violence yesterday.
To combat against against gender-based violence, and to support organizations working to do so, the government is pledging $162 million over the next four years to the action plan specifically in Ontario. The announcement was made by Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth.
“When we see that 11 million Canadians have experienced intimate partner violence, at least one, and that is after the age of 15, we know that we must take action,” says Ien. “That action needs to include recognizing that, along with the physical harm, there is a really heavy emotional toll of financial and mental toll that survivors carry for the rest of their lives. That is trauma they carry for the rest of their lives.”
Michael Pasara, Ontario’s Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, says that the $162 million is an addition to the province’s projected investment.
“This is a welcome addition to Ontario’s projected investment of more than $1.4 billion in services over the lifetime of the agreement to help address and prevent gender based violence,” says Pasara.
While the funding will be spread across the country Ian says that there are three priorities that are being highlighted. With prevention being the first Ian says that 25 per cent of the funding will be towards. The rest of the funding will be going towards reaching underserved communities and “stabilizing gender based violence.”
In addition to the priorities, there are five pillars to the plan: support for victims, prevention, a responsive justice system, implementing Indigenous approaches and increased social infrastructure.
To achieve these goals, the funding will go towards organizations that support people who have been affected by gender-based violence, according to the government. One of those organizations includes the YWCA Toronto branch. The YWCA hosts events and programs for women; as well as an emergency shelter for “women, gender diverse people and their children fleeing abuse.”
“On a very basic financial area, it will help us meet our budgets to support the programs that we’re doing,” says Heather McGregor, CEO of the YWCA. “This money will help all of those programs to move along and help survivors thrive.”
The YWCA currently has two shelters for women and gender diverse people experiencing violence, alongside the shelters are programs for children who have witnessed violence in the household and interest free loans to help women escape violent living situations.
McGregor says that the collaboration and funding from the government for agencies working with survivors is “very exciting.” McGregor also says that she would like to see Ontario officially declare the gender-based violence an epidemic.
“We would really like the province to declare gender based violence and epidemic, and they haven’t done so yet,” says McGregor. “Many municipalities across the province have as a result of the inquest in Renfrew County. But there has been so much in the news, such sad news lately about gender based violence and intimate partner violence with the terrible tragedy in Sioux Sainte Marie recently. So it’s the kind of thing that I think is on the public’s mind.”
Through-out the summer of 2023 municipalities around Ontario have been declaring gender-based violence an epidemic, with Toronto making the declaration in July. After the Renfrew County inquest, a report into the triple femicide perpetrated by Basil Borutski, the Federal government declared gender-based violence a national epidemic.
More information on the National Action Plan can be found on the government website.