The Prince George Sexual Assault Centre is one of the service providers contributing to the development of a provincial action plan to help end gender-based violence, support survivors, and promote healing, community awareness, and prevention.
"We are committed to working with community-based service providers to ensure that survivors have the supports and services they need when they come forward," said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity.
The government provided $20 million in 2020 and 2021 to support the delivery of co-ordinated, community-based emergency sexual-assault response services throughout B.C. and will now be providing stable, ongoing annual funding.
The Prince George Sexual Assault Centre, along with the Elizabeth Fry Society, received grants to enhance services for survivors in the northern region, including around-the-clock emergency sexual-assault response, emotional and short-term crisis support, accompaniment to hospital, and safety planning.
"This funding comes at a unique time in our history, as we have seen a dramatic surge in requests for support that are directly related to the increased rates of violence due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Lynnell Halikowski, executive director of the Prince George Sexual Assault Centre.
“This increase has resulted in our agency responding to over 10,000 calls for service in 2021-22. With increased support we can maintain our ability to provide comprehensive care regarding sexual violence and deliver public education, advocating for societal change that creates a culture free from sexual violence."
Through the grant program, funding was also provided to the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia, and Carrier Sekani Family Services to enhance supports for Indigenous survivors in the region.
Building on $20 million previously provided, the province has committed $10 million annually in stable, ongoing annual funding for sexual assault services, which will be awarded over the coming months using an open procurement process, with funding starting in April 2023.
In addition, the B.C. government provides more than $44 million annually to support more than 400 victim service and violence-against-women programs.
Stable funding for sexual assault services is part of a multi-year action plan to help end gender-based violence that is being developed by the Ministry of Finance's Gender Equity Office and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
“Our government understands the damaging effects of gender-based violence on survivors and their communities, and my ministry is working with the parliamentary secretary for gender equity to develop an action plan to end it," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
"During the pandemic, violence against women and girls has intensified, and it is crucial that survivors have access to the services and supports they need. We are committed to working with community groups and we thank them for all they do to prevent gender-based violence and support those affected by it."
If you or someone you know needs help VictimLinkBC is a toll-free, confidential, multilingual service available across B.C. and the Yukon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be accessed by calling or texting 1-800-563-0808 or sending an email to VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca.
It provides information and referral services to all victims of crime and immediate crisis support to victims of family and sexual violence, including victims of human trafficking exploited for labour or sexual services.