With a large budget surplus, and 1.8 million Albertans experiencing sexual violence in their lifetimes, it is extremely disappointing that the province did not address the unmet needs of survivors in Tuesday’s budget, says the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.
The government offered a one-time investment that was a quarter of the funding requested and partial, one-time funding cannot address the ongoing need, the association said.
Sexual assaults are not decreasing like other violent crimes. In 2021, police-reported sexual assault increased 21 per cent in Alberta, according to data released last year by Statistics Canada.
“On behalf of all survivors across Alberta – who are your friends, coworkers and family members – I implore you to tell your MLAs, to tell all your candidates in the upcoming election to make sexual violence prevention, and the health of Alberta communities, a priority by providing adequate and sustainable funding to our sexual assault services,” said Deb Tomlinson, association CEO, in a statement.
Last spring, a business case was submitted on behalf of Alberta sexual assault centres to the provincial government for enhanced and ongoing funding to support survivors of sexual violence.
The association asked for funding to:
• Decrease the counselling wait lists (which is upwards of a year in some areas of the province).
• Address the increasingly complex needs of survivors.
• Help survivors to access justice.
• Provide school-based and community-based prevention programs to keep communities safe.
The association said that despite numerous attempts to continue a dialogue and find a solution together, the government decided to re-allocate their proposed one-time investment without further negotiation.
Ignoring the needs brought forward in the business case indicates a lack of understanding of how sexual violence is linked to some of our most serious social and health problems – like addictions, chronic and persistent mental illness, homelessness, and unemployment.
“Albertans who have experienced the trauma of sexual violence deserve specialized, trauma-informed, evidence-based services, and they deserve them in a timely manner,” the association said.
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