$42.6 million to address interpersonal violence and abuse

 The Saskatchewan government has reaffirmed their financial commitment Monday towards addressing issues of interpersonal violence and abuse in the province. 

At an announcement Monday the province confirmed it is providing $42.6 million over three years to 34 community-based service organizations and 54 programs across Saskatchewan. This will go toward supports and services for those impacted by interpersonal violence and abuse. 

Dignitaries on hand in Regina, including Premier Scott Moe, Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre and several MLAs and cabinet ministers, for province’s announcement of funding to community based organizations. John Cairns

According to the province’s news release, funded programs are across the province and they include the following: eight agencies delivering ten Sexual Violence Services programs; 12 Residential Transition houses; two agencies delivering three enhanced residential services in Saskatoon and Prince Albert; 14 agencies delivering 16 Family Violence Intervention programs; four agencies providing Family Intervention Rapid Support Teams in six communities; three agencies providing Provincial Coordination services, and three agencies providing four Victim Advocate Case Review programs. 211 Saskatchewan and the Northern Transportation and Support Initiative are also receiving funding.

The province says in a news release it is dedicating $31.7 million to interpersonal violence programs and services this year alone, including $14.2 million per year being provided to community-based partners, $4.6 million in funding through the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, annualized funding for second-stage shelters, and additional funding for Victims Services and other supports. The province states that since 2014-15, it has increased its annual investment in domestic violence shelters and enhanced residential services to over $9 million.

Premier Scott Moe and Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre were at the announcement Monday as were a host of Sask Party cabinet ministers and MLAs and also Regina Mayor Sandra Masters.

“Today’s announcement of an increase in funding certainly is important for those that are currently impacted, the families that are directly impacted by interpersonal violence,” Premier Moe said to reporters. “Really, this is some of the most important investment that governments could make is partnering with our community-based organizations who show — really truly show —results in this area in supporting families that are impacted by interpersonal violence. And so it is an opportunity for government to be part of that impactful work, and I would some of the most impactful work that happens in our province. The increase in funding is necessary, and I think it builds on previous increases where you’ve seen the government move into not only capital funding of various structures, but moving much more into the operational funding as well. This is some of the most important work that happens in our communities and are supporting those that are faced with interpersonal violence. You’ve seen the government react with legislation and funding supporting the results that our community-based organizations are bringing forward, and I think there needs to be even more support from the provincial government in the future.”

“It’s all part of a broader picture and a broader response when it comes to combatting this complex issue and very centrally important issue to the province,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. She added it was “important to get those numbers out of the abstract, and look really at what specific work these community-based organizations do in partnership with the government funding and with the government.”

Minister Eyre points to over 1,000 women and children finding shelter from abusive situations and access to counselling and educational opportunities; on the sexual assault side Eyre pointed to up to 1,000 people in one year accessing counselling, advocacy and education.

“This announcement is very important for an organization like the YWCA and our partner organizations,” said YWCA Regina CEO Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen to reporters. “I think one of the important things about it is it sheds some light on the work that needs to happen, and also brings commitment to the fact that it’s an issue in our community, and that we need to continue to offer supports, safe places and programs for women in the children.”

The announcement was made Monday at the new YWCA Centre for Women and Families which is currently under construction. The YWCA had been on a fundraising campaign to raise upwards of $70 million towards that facility, and as it stands are now $4.5 million short of their goal.

Their plan is to have the facility open on Sept. 1, with women moving into the shelter on Oct. 1. The Isabel Johnson Centre will be located there and is one of the 12 residential transition houses receiving provincial funding and which will be one of three shelters located in the city of Regina.

At the Legislature, Opposition Justice Critic Nicole Sarauer was asked about Monday’s announcement and made it known she thought it was a rehash of what had been previously announced by the government.

“My understanding of the announcement is that it’s simply a re-announcement of what already existed in the budget — a three per cent lift for CBO‘s in the province which, of course, is better than a cut, but isn’t enough to meet the needs in Saskatchewan. We’re hearing that CBOs are having difficulty being able to retain staff. based on a limited amount of money that they’re getting to be able to pay for salaries. The Regina Sexual Assault Centre right now has a 50 person waitlist, so clearly not enough money to meet the need. And I understand the announcement today was at the YWCA; the YWCA had a request for funding to the provincial government to complete their building, and that hadn’t been granted and that wasn’t an announcement that was made today. So, it’s disappointing to see simply a re-announcement of dollars that already exist, especially with a need for supports for interpersonal violence in this province, when we have such astronomically high rates, is still there.”

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