Funding shortfalls to sexual assault services and supports could force program closures in northern communities like Île-à-la-Crosse.
The Executive Director of the Battlefords and Area Sexual Assault Centre recently stated that without more provincial assistance, services like counselling, crisis support and advocacy for victims would be cut as of June 30.
NDP MLA Nicole Sarauer says with Saskatchewan having a high rate of sexual violence in Canada, the provincial government needs to do more to curb the rates.
“Sexual assault reports are on the rise. The need for sexual assault services are on the rise and inject funding into sexual assault services that already exist in this province. Funding for sexual assault organizations have been flat lined for years,” Sarauer said.
The government has long recognized that the rate of sexual violence is far too high, with Justice Minister Don Morgan calling the problem a priority. Yet in increasing funding to these organizations, Morgan says the government will await the release of a domestic violence report before committing to more money for sexual violence.
“We need to work with those centers. We need to make sure those services continue to be funded, and we want to make sure we’re doing it efficiently. We’ll have more to say on it next week,” Morgan explained.
With Morgan trying to link domestic and sexual assaults together, Sarauer warns not to conflate the issue, but rather fund both domestic and sexual violence groups.
“We have the worst rates of domestic violence in Canada amongst the provinces and the second highest rates of sexual assault. We need to ensure we’re providing adequate supports for both,” Sarauer explained.
Morgan says he will be meeting with sexual assault groups next month to discuss funding.
(PHOTO: Nicole Sarauer. Photo courtesy of saskndp.ca)