The Alberta government introduced new funding for victims of child sexual abuse on Thursday.

Officials made the announcement at the start of the Minister’s Forum on Child Sexual Abuse, which is a day-long conference on the topic at the University of Calgary.

U of C conference

The Minister’s Forum on Child Sexual Abuse conference was held at the University of Calgary today. (CBC)

Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar said incidents of abuse are underreported.

"This is a topic where there is unfortunately a lot of stigma," he said.

Bhullar said he is hosting the conference to get feedback from front-line workers and experts in the field as the province works on a plan to improve prevention and healing and to make the justice system friendlier to victims.

The new Counselling for Children Pilot Grant, announced by Alberta's Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, will go to organizations such as the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary.

Kennedy, a former NHL player and conference co-chair, said the support is needed.

"We deal with over a hundred investigations a month coming out of there,” he said. “It's our role to turn their lives around and give them the opportunity to have the healthy life that they once had. So that funding will absolutely help us with that." 

Organizations can apply for up to $150,000 a year over three years. The money will come from the Victims of Crime fund.

According to Danielle Aubry, executive director of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, the job of protecting children can't be left up to the government — it’s critical for people to speak out in cases of abuse.

"As service providers and as the broader community, we all have a responsibility in making sure this issue stays on the agenda,” she said.