Roughly a week after the London Abused Women Centre (LAWC) announced that it could only maintain a support program for victims of human trafficking until late May after a loss of federal funding, the agency now says the generosity of Londoners will allow the program to run until June 30.
On Wednesday, LAWC executive director Megan Walker announced Londoners have raised $14,000 for the program, which helps over 600 women and girls who are victims of human trafficking. Throughout its lifetime, the program has helped a total of 3,107 trafficked, prostituted, sexually exploited and at-risk women and girls in London.
“We are extremely grateful to the community of London for its ongoing support of LAWC’s work. However, it should not be the responsibility of individual Londoners to fund these essential services,” Walker said.
“Nor should these life-saving services be provided on a month-by-month basis.”
LAWC, in addition to other organizations, was receiving funding through the Measures to Address Prostitution Initiatives (MAPI) fund, a five-year program that ended in March. Walker said organizations receiving funding under that program were told to apply to a new fund in October but after months of silence, finally learned they would not be receiving funding for April 1.
LAWC says it continued to provide the program after funding ended but announced last Tuesday that it would not be able to provide it come June.
While the federal government has allocated $75 million in funding to create the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking to rescue and prevent women and children from being forced into the sex trade, Walker says the funding has not yet been distributed and the federal government is instead continuing with additional consultation.
“Rather than distribute the funding before programs are forced to close, the government proposes to spend more money on yet more consultation. What they intend to consult about remains a mystery,” she argued.
In a statement last week, the Office of the Minister of Justice and the Office of the Minister of Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) said they will be working with provinces and territories, stakeholders, experts and those with lived experience in the coming months to develop a national action plan to address and prevent gender-based violence.
“Our Government is committed to combating human trafficking and to better protecting victims, who are among society’s most vulnerable. Human trafficking is a very serious criminal offence, and our government is committed to strengthening efforts to combat it through the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking,” the statement read.
The statement also noted the office is working to find solutions for organizations impacted by the loss of the MAPI to enable them to continue their work.
— with files from Global News Radio 980 CFPL’s Sawyer Bogdan.