Windsor

Province reverses funding agreement, will cause Sexual Assault Crisis Centre services to suffer

The Sexual Assault Crisis Centre said it has had to lose two full-time staff positions because of funding changes.

'We'll be forced to do more with less'

Lydia Fiorini, the executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre said the previous government increased funding after a review of services, noting that service wasn't keeping up with demand. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

In any given year the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre in Windsor gets about 900 new cases.

Each case requires multiple visits with professionals.

The previous government held a review of sexual violence and domestic violence. Lydia Fiorini, the executive director of SACC said the government found out there is a high demand for service in those areas and funding wasn't meeting demand.

"We have a lot more sexual assaults than ever before and the complexities of sexual assault seem to be greater and greater," said Fiorini.

As a result the government increased funding to the centre by around $144,000. There were signed letters of agreement saying the money was going to the centre. As of March 31, 2019, they were informed that money was no longer coming.

"We got zero dollars for this year. So as a result we will be operating with $100,000 deficit. This year coming we were promised $35,000 more," said Fiorini.

The centre had to cut two part-time staff and will not be replacing a full-time position going on maternity leave, which drops their staff from nine full-time positions down to seven. Because of the lack of staff, Fiorini has had to revise offered services.

"Which will mean more demand on our current staff and waiting for services," said Fiorini.

One of the workers dealt primarily with parents of children who were sexually abused.

Lydia Firoini, the executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre said the previous government increased funding after a review of services, noting that service wasn't keeping up with demand. But the funding has changed. 0:42

"We won't be able to do that at least in the intensity that the program was offered and as a result we'll be cutting back," she said. "The other reality is we'll have to start looking at providing less and less service to people."

She expects more people to be seen in groups because they won't have the resources to see them individually. It's also decreased brief interventions.

Fiorini said they'll be "forced to do more with less."

The funding comes through the justice surcharge fund, not tax-based dollars. Convicted offenders pay a fine and that money is distributed out to victim services, said Fiorini.

"We also understand that pot is going to be impacted as well."

The centre has been trying to change the mindset of society. Initiatives like bringing consent programs to schools and finding ways to change people's views and behaviours so they don't commit these crimes.

"We have to understand those things have to exist in order for us to at least tackle this problem."

The Ministry of the Attorney General said the Essex County sexual assault centre will be receiving more provincial funding this year than it received last year. It said the centre received  $537,664 in provincial funding.

"This year, it will receive $568,391 from the Ministry of the Attorney General," said Brian Gray, spokesperson for the ministry.

The government will not be "proceeding with the funding the prior government announced," but will invest another $1 million in sexual assault centre programming.

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