WINNIPEG, MB. - Dollars from the Canada's Victim Fund will be used and many other new programs will be implemented by the province to improve support for survivors of sexual violence said Minister Heather Stefanson in a news release.
“The Manitoba government continues to look for ways to better support survivors of sexual violence, whether or not they choose to report to police,” said Stefanson. “These projects will help all Manitobans become better informed about sexual assault and how to best support survivors. We are pleased to partner with the government of Canada on this important initiative. It takes partnerships between governments, community-based service providers, police and many others to meaningfully address sexual violence in our communities.”
More than $147,000 from Justice Canada’s Victims Fund will be invested in training, information and education related to sexual violence. It includes:
- over $50,000 for workshops and training sessions on sexual assault for community members, service providers and police which will include meaningful and accurate information about the criminal justice system to improve access to justice for survivors;
- over $75,000 for specialized training for Manitoba Victim Services, the Manitoba Prosecution Service, and other community partners that will help Manitoba Justice better support survivors by challenging common misconceptions about victims and their responses to the trauma of sexual violence; and
- $20,000 for new printed and digital resources developed by Manitoba Victim Services that will provide survivors of sexual violence with information about what to expect when a police report is filed, as well as alternative sources of support for those who may choose not to report.
“Sexual violence is a plague on our society,” said Stefanson. “Every Manitoban has a role to play in reducing and eliminating it. This funding will better equip service providers to help survivors of violence and will better equip those individuals to deal with the consequences of that violence in a way that works best for them.”
Manitoba Justice will partner with several community agencies and other government departments to develop and deliver the new projects including Klinic Community Health Centre and Ka Ni Kanichihk.
“Klinic is pleased to be a partner in this initiative to increase awareness and understanding of the effects of sexual violence,” said Nicole Chammartin, executive director of Klinic Community Health Centre. “Together we hope to inform resource and service development that is trauma informed, culturally competent and more responsive to the needs of sexual violence survivors as they engage with the criminal justice system.”
“Violence against women is not exclusively a women’s issue and I am pleased that the provincial government is playing a leadership role in engaging men to actively oppose it,” said Leslie Spillett, executive director of Ka Ni Kanichihk. “Indigenous women are at greater risk and do experience profound levels of violence. Understanding the intersection between race, gender and class is therefore essential to ending instances of sexual violence.”
The public workshops are expected to be offered later this year. Details will be posted at www.gov.mb.ca/justice and the province’s Twitter account at www.twitter.com/MBGov and shared through community agencies and other partners.
Sexual assault is a designated offence under Manitoba’s Victims Bill of Rights. Currently, provincial Victim Services staff proactively reach out to survivors of these crimes when charges are laid to provide information about the justice system and what to expect as their case proceeds. Other assistance can include court support and accompaniment, referral to counselling resources and ensuring survivors’ views are considered throughout the process.
When sexual assault cases proceed through the criminal justice system, the province also pays for independent lawyers to represent the interests of sexual assault survivors if defence counsel applies to the court for access to the victim’s counselling records or other information.
According to Statistics Canada’s Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, there were 1,431 police-reported sexual assaults in Manitoba in 2016, which is nearly double the national rate. A national survey conducted by Statistics Canada in 2014 showed 95 per cent of all sexual assaults are not reported to police.
For more information about Justice Canada’s Victims Fund, click here.
For more information about Manitoba Justice’s Victims Services programs, click here.