Sexual violence support advocates in the capital are upset the Ottawa Police Service will not receive provincial funding to improve their response to sexual violence.
Ontario has dedicated $1.8 million over two years to support 15 police pilot projects in cities across the province including Barrie, Kingston and Windsor.
- Ontario to spend $1.8M to improve police response to sex violence
- Windsor police receive government funding to improve sexual violence response
"For us, it doesn't make sense," said Yami Msosa, public education coordinator with the Sexual Assault Support Centre in Ottawa.
"We know that Ottawa has one of the highest unfounded rates of the major cities here in Ontario. For [the OPS] not to be one of the police services that was selected is disappointing."
In early February, the Globe and Mail published a story, after a 20-month long investigation, concerning the way police investigators handle sexual assault allegations.
Their research, based on data obtained through freedom-of-information laws, concluded that one in every five sexual-assault allegations brought to police in Canada is dismissed as baseless and deemed unfounded.
"The evidence is there that [the funding] is very much needed," said Msosa.
According to the Globe, the unfounded sexual assault rate in Ottawa from 2010 to 2014 was 28 per cent — compared to Montreal at 18 per cent and Toronto at seven per cent.
Msosa's co-worker Brie Davies said she is not surprised.
"We work with a lot women and ... we do hear people having experiences of not being believed or things not being followed up on," she said.
"If there are high unfounded rates, I think it leads to fewer people actually reporting sexual violence. We're the capital city, so it seems like a good place to set a good tone for the rest of the country."
In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde said the police pilot program was "oversubscribed" and the ministry could not provide all applicants with funding.
However, the next call for applications for the project is expected to be issued to police services in the spring of 2018.