AASAS calls for more funding as sexual violence cases continue to climb

Click to play video: 'Sexual violence prevention advocates call on government for funding help'
Sexual violence prevention advocates call on government for funding help
WATCH: The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services is calling on the province for more attention and funding ahead of Alberta’s next budget. As Jaclyn Kucey reports, it comes as stakeholders share their concerns about rising cases of sexual violence in the province – Jan 27, 2023

The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Service (AASAS) said cases of sexual violence are on the rise in our province.

A survey of 1,500 people conducted by AASAS in 2020 found 43 per cent of respondents have experienced sexual violence — at least once in their lifetime.

Thirty-four per cent of those respondents said it occurred when they were children.

“Survivors are everywhere — they’re your friends, your family, your colleagues, and they’re coming forward, and they need help and we don’t have the capacity to meet the level of demand we are seeing now,” said Deb Tomlinson, CEO of The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.

Tomlinson highlights in parts of the province, survivors are waiting more than a year to receive counselling.

AASAS presented a business case to the province in 2020 to outline the need for increased funding.

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“Recently, we got our first response which was for only one year of funding with no help for prevention, no help for justice; that’s just not workable,” said Tomlinson

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The province, in a statement to Global News said: “Sexual assault centres provide critical supports to victims impacted emotionally, mentally and physically from sexual violence. Alberta’s government is committed to combatting sexual violence and ensuring proper care is available to victims.

“Following Budget 2020, we increased budgets for sexual assault centres over three years, bringing our ministry’s sexual violence prevention funding to $13.8 million in 2022-23. Overall government provides over $17 million across four ministries.

The proposal from AASAS will be reviewed over the coming months.”

“We can’t wait for this to be even more of a crisis than what it is already,” said Kristine Cassie, CEO of the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre.

AASAS is asking for an additional $13 million in funding to offset the need for continued care and early prevention resources.

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Cassie said it’s a growing need in southern Alberta.

“We’re just in our fourth year of operations,” said Cassie. “Even last year, we saw a 37 per cent jump in people seeking help from our agency, so we know this is just going to continue to grow.”

It’s a reality advocates hope is top of mind for the government ahead of its next budget.

“Survivors are counting on you,” said Tomlinson.

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