Liberals to invest $20M to tackle sexual violence against Indigenous, LGBT, immigrant populations

The Liberal government has announced $20 million in funding for organizations to support what it calls "underserved" survivors of sexual violence.

Status of women minister announces details of plans to support 'underserved' survivors of abuse

Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, makes a funding announcement in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, September 8, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Liberal government has announced $20 million in funding for organizations to support what it calls "underserved" survivors of sexual violence.

That includes programs targeting Indigenous, immigrant and LGBT populations, as well as seniors and disabled women and those living in remote and northern communities.

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef made the announcement at a sexual assault centre in Peterborough, Ont. today.

The money will give groups with scarce, or no, resources up to $30,000 to develop project proposals. If they are accepted, they could get funding for up to five years as part of the $20-million envelope.

The funding is part of the government's national strategy to tackle gender-based violence, called "It's Time," which will fund research, prevention and groups that support survivors.

It comes as the #MeToo movement gains momentum across North America and around the world.

Monsef praised the feminists and advocates who have fought for years and decades to end sexual violence long before there was a "hash tag." And while the movement has exposed divisions and stark differences of approach, she urged everyone to come together for a common goal.

"If we work together as communities, across cultures, across generations, across faith groups and across sectors, the ongoing challenge of gender-based violence is one we will overcome."

The government will accept pitches for ideas for projects beginning today until March 1.

Monsef calls for proposals

5 years ago
Duration 2:11
Monsef calls for proposals

Francyne Joe, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, welcomed the new funding, but worried about the tight time frame.

She said services for Indigenous women on and off reserve are piecemeal and inconsistent, and are particularly scarce in northern communities.

"I understand the intent of Minister Monsef's announcement here, but I think it's spread a little bit too thin, and there's not as much clarity that program workers are going to need to file a really good proposal," Joe told CBC.

"I appreciate that if approved this funding may be paid out over five years, but we need more criteria out sooner rather than later so we can start working in partnerships with other groups to use this money to the best ability."

Zero tolerance in arts sector

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly was also working on the sexual harassment and violence issue Wednesday, meeting with members of the performing arts, television and film sectors in Toronto. She said she has instructed her department to consider ways to ensure federal grants and contributions are linked to a zero-tolerance policy for workplace abuse.

"We're looking at different solutions right now," she said, adding a code of conduct or other measures could be put in place in the arts and culture sector to make sure "people are much more well protected and ultimately that there is much more of a responsibility on the part of people in charge of workplaces to make sure that that people are kept safe."

Joly speaks to Arts unions on harassment

5 years ago
Duration 1:43
Joly speaks to Arts unions on harassment

Departmental officials are working with union members and leaders and she expects recommendations for a path forward in coming months, she said.

Earlier this month, the Canada Council for the Arts issued a statement condemning harassment, sexual misconduct or abuse of power in any workplace.

"We're currently reviewing our granting policies to ensure that there are adequate provisions which allow us to fairly and more effectively address situations which involve artists or organizations receiving Canada Council funding," the Jan. 5 statement read.


Kathleen Harris

Senior producer, Politics

Kathleen Harris is the senior producer for CBC.ca in the CBC's Parliament Hill bureau.

With files from Peter Zimonjic


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