Kingston’s sexual assault numbers are continuing to rise, and the local sexual assault centre says a recent funding cut from the provincial government is making it hard for them to serve victims in the community.
This week, Statistics Canada published its crime statistics for 2018 — between 2017 and 2018, there was more than a 27 per cent increase in level one sexual assaults reported in Kingston.
The city saw an even more dramatic jump of reported sexual assaults the year previous, with a 54 per cent increase between 2016 and 2017.
But prior to 2016, Kingston was tracking minimal increases or even fairly dramatic decreases in reported sexual assaults.
Sexuals Assault Centre Kingston is attributing the rising numbers to several factors.
“More survivors are coming forward, we are building a more supportive community to welcome survivors, and there is a broader acceptance that sexual violence is never okay and it can be stopped,” a news release from the centre read.
Last year, Kingston police attributed the high sexual assault numbers to changes they made in dealing with victims of sexual assaults, as well as changes in classifying sexual assaults as “unfounded.”
With more victims coming forward, executive director of Sexual Assault Centre Kingston Brea Hutchinson says they are not equipped to meet the demand of people coming forward.
In March 2018, Hutchinson said the previous Liberal government promised the centre nearly $89,000 a year for three years to deal with the rising number of victims. Hutchinson said the funding would have paid for two new counsellors to help with the higher number of clientele as well as the higher number of events the centre has been invited to attend over the last two years.
But in March 2019, the Progressive Conservative government announced they would be changing the funding model promised by the Liberals.
Instead, the centre was awarded a one-time funding increase of $21,000.
“This is helpful but a one-time funding increase of this size means we could at most, be hiring a part-time counsellor (say 18 hours a week), for one year. As a result of this change we have not hired two new counsellors,” Hutchinson said in an email.
Current funding has afforded an increase in hours for three of the centre’s counsellors for one year, but come April 2020, Hutchinson says the centre will see its services reduced.
She also said it’s unclear if the centre will receive any funding next year.
“I’ve been told it’s a one-time increase, and this government is hard to predict. We’ve been told nothing,” Hutchinson said.
Kingston police did not respond in time for publication.