Community organizations working to prevent and respond to violence against women and children across B.C. will be receiving a $5 million boost from the government to help reduce waitlists for some of the most vulnerable seeking care.
During an announcement at the Surrey Women’s Centre Friday, Premier John Horgan said that funding for these kinds of services “has been stagnant, if I can be generous.”
Horgan also said British Columbians can expect more to come in the governent’s budget in February.
"Funding has been stagnant, if I can be generous," Premier John Horgan says of government support for women and children affected by violence. #surreybc
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) December 1, 2017
About $4 million of the funds, which will be available to programs and organizations in the form of one-time grants, will be used to address the high demans for programs that help women and children through counselling, outreach and crisis support.
Meanwhile, $800,000 will support inter-agency case assessment teams of police officers, victim service workers and transition house service providers.
The remaining $200,000 will help fund two B.C.-wide educational and awareness programs: Be More Than A Bystander, an award-winning program that’s delivered to more than 80,000 high school students and youth, and Violence is Preventable – a free, confidential, school-bases violence prevention program for children and youth agred three to 18 years old.
Alison Brewin, interim executive director of the Surrey Women’s Centre in Whalley, said the centre receives 5,000 visits every year by women seeking support and help. “Seeking help on their journey from survival to the thriving lives they are entitled to in this province,” she said. “Sadly, we have a two year wait list for our counselling services.
“We’re only reaching a portion of the women and children and men who need our help, who are dealing with gender-based violence,” Brewin added.
“Funding from a government that shares our commitment to gender justice is an important sign that this sector is valued, that women who experience violence deserve safety, respect, dignity.
“It’s been a dry 16 years, I have to say,” Brewin said of funding under the previous Liberal government. “The past 16 years has been a focus on victimization, not the person. It’s been about the symptoms and not the cure. So I thank the B.C. government for showing up and letting us know that the women we serve have been seen and are being heard.”
Horgan said at the presser that the more awareness there is about this issue, “the more ability we have to address the problems, systemic problems in our society.
“Community-based organizations like the Surrey Women’s Centre provide critical outreach and counselling and crisis support for survivors and for too long centres like these have not been given the resources that they need. Funding has been stagnant, if I could be generous,” Horgan said. “Centres like the Surrey Women’s Centre are stretched to the limit.
“It’s an important first step,” Horgan said of the $5 million in funding. “This is just the beginning.
“This is a modest step forward,” he said.