Montreal

Philippe Couillard needs to do more to fight sexual exploitation: Québec Solidaire

MNA Manon Massé is calling on the province to reintroduce funding for programs aimed at cracking down on sexual exploitation.

MNA Manon Massé says $1.4M would help

MNA Manon Massé says province cut funding in 2014 that would help address sexual exploitation. (Shutterstock)

Québec Solidaire is calling on the province to reintroduce funding for programs aimed at cracking down on sexual exploitation. 

MNA Manon Massé says the $1.4-million, three-year program was scrapped by the Premier Philippe Couillard's government in 2014.

She says the money helped several organizations work with vulnerable youth.

Massé suggested the recent string of runaways from a Laval group home may have been prevented with better services in place. 

She said funding should be brought back "starting this week."

"We're talking about $1.4 million over three years," she said. "It's very little money to do an extraordinary job."

'We won't be able to continue this work'

Stella, a Montreal-based support group for sex workers, is among those impacted by the cuts.

​Sandra Wesley, the head of the organization, said its funding won't be renewed for the upcoming fiscal year, starting April 1. 

Stella had a program in place to prevent young woman from being drawn into sex work that "worked directly in areas where street gangs have a presence," Wesley said.

"Now, we won't be able to continue this work in Quebec."

The Opposition Parti Québécois, meanwhile, has called on the Liberal government to restore funding to the province's youth centres. PQ MNA Jean-François Lisée said the province has cut $20 million since coming to power.

Last week, the government announced it would send an auditor to the Laval group home and launch a review into the way its centres are managed.

Five teenage girls living at the youth protection home Centre Jeunesse de Laval have run away since late last month. Four have been located.

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