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B.C. provides $10M to help survivors of sexual assault

Click to play video 'B.C. government announces $10-million to support sexual assault survivors' B.C. government announces $10-million to support sexual assault survivors
Global BC reporter Richard Zussman speaks with Paul Haysom about the province's announcement Tuesday to bolster support for vulnerable communities and victims of sexual assault and violence. In addition, the discussion also turns to other topics like hybrid learning at B.C. schools and drive-in theatre rules – May 26, 2020

The B.C. government is allocating $10 million through a three-year grant program to provide emergency sexual assault response services and help survivors throughout the province.

“Gender-based violence, including sexual assault, can increase during times of crisis, and that’s why our government continues to prioritize services and supports for survivors of these devastating crimes,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Calls to Vancouver domestic-violence crisis line spike 300% amid COVID-19 pandemic

The province said it is still too early to determine the full impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on sexual violence. Different organizations have seen different responses.

Many organizations described it as “eerily quiet” during the first two weeks of the pandemic restrictions, and thought survivors were behind closed doors and unable to ask for help.

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Click to play video 'Surge in domestic violence during COVID-19 crisis' Surge in domestic violence during COVID-19 crisis
Surge in domestic violence during COVID-19 crisis – Apr 23, 2020

“What we are hearing in B.C. is that it is starting,” said Tracy Porteous, executive director of the Ending Violence Association of BC, which will distribute the grant funding.

“The service workers have been saying to us what they are most worried about is a tsunami of demand for their help once the lockdown is fully lifted.”

READ MORE: Women’s shelters, sexual assault centres face funding shortfalls during COVID-19 pandemic

The funding helps to replace cuts made in 2002 to sexual assault centres.

It’s on top of the more than $40 million in annual government funding to support more than 400 programs that combat violence against women.