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B.C. government promises $5 million to help women and children affected by violence

Premier John Horgan (left) announces the government is offering $5 million in one-time funding to help women and children fleeing domestic violence.
Premier John Horgan (left) announces the government is offering $5 million in one-time funding to help women and children fleeing domestic violence. Jeremy Lye / CKNW

The provincial government has promised a $5-million fund in a bid to reduce wait lists and meet demand for counselling and crisis support for women and children fleeing domestic or sexualized violence.

Premier John Horgan called it a modest, one-time cash injection, but said it’s a step in the right direction.

“Violence against women hurts everyone and has long-term effects on families and our communities,” Horgan said in a news release.

“For too long, community organizations helping women affected by violence have not had the resources and support they need, with gaps in service and growing wait lists for counselling and crisis programs.

“People in crisis should not have to wait for help. Our government is enhancing supports for women and children affected by violence.”

Women and children are spending as long as two years on a wait list for services.

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Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said that, for many organizations, taking on more cases has meant pushing them beyond their financial limits.

“The grants we’re providing are a stepping stone towards a greater certainty and stability for the thousands of women and children who rely on them in some of the most frightening, stressful and dangerous times of their lives,” he said.

The funds will be split up into several programs:

  • $4 million will be shared by victims services and violence against women programs throughout B.C. to address high demand among women and children fleeing domestic abuse or sexualized violence
  • $800,000 will go to Inter-Agency Case Assessment Teams of police, victim services workers, transitional housing providers and other groups that offer safety in high-risk cases
  • $200,000 will be used for educational and prevention programs

Two education programs – Be More Than a Bystander and Violence is Preventable – are targeted at children and youth.

Be More than a Bystander, which was created in part by the BC Lions football team, has reached more than 80,000 high school students to date.

And the CFL team has made internal changes of its own.

Jamie Taras, the BC Lions’ director of community relations and a former offensive lineman, said he has seen a change in how players treat and speak about women.

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“I’ve seen that happen with our player,s with each other, where guys have said stuff, you know like a joke, and where they’ve had to step in and say, ‘Hey that’s not how we do things in our locker room,’” he said.