Harris government increases support for victims of domestic violence

Archived Release

Harris government increases support for victims of domestic violence

Ministry of Community and Social Services

TORONTO, Oct. 3 /CNW/ - Help will soon be a phone call away for victims of domestic violence right across Ontario. The Harris government has committed $4.5 million over the next five years to create and maintain a province-wide assaulted women's crisis helpline. The announcement was made today by Community and Social Services Minister John Baird and Attorney General David Young.
"Domestic violence will not be tolerated by the Ontario government and we will continue to step up our efforts to put a stop to it," said Baird. "This province-wide crisis line builds on the supports available to women in Ontario trying to break free from a life of domestic violence."
The funding announced today will be used to expand the Toronto-based Assaulted Women's Helpline province-wide. The toll-free crisis line will be available to help women obtain information and support 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. The crisis line is expected to be fully operational by late spring 2002.
"Victims of domestic violence must know that the government of Ontario will continue to help them in their greatest hour of need," said Young. "This crisis line is an important front-line tool that will help abused women wherever they may live in the province."
A portion of the funding will be used to enhance crisis line counselling and referral services for the Francophone community.
"Early intervention, risk assessment, safety planning and counselling are critical if a woman is to get out of an abusive relationship," said Beth Jordan Bennet, Program Director for the Assaulted Women's Helpline. "Today's announcement will give women throughout Ontario access to support when they need it."
"Crisis lines are often the first point of contact when victims seek help," said Dianne Cunningham, Minister Responsible for Women's Issues. "Today's announcement will allow women anywhere in the province to pick up the phone and get the help they need to turn their lives around. Our government has listened to the concerns of women and we are acting."
In this year's budget, the Harris government increased funding to combat domestic violence by $26 million, bringing the government's total spending on violence against women prevention services to more than $145 million annually. The new funding is being used to create 300 new shelter beds and refurbish an additional 136 beds. The government also announced it will spend $3 million this year, growing to $9 million annually, for counselling and other supports for these new beds.

Backgrounder
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October 3, 2001

PROTECTING WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The Harris government is taking another step to help women break free from domestic violence. The Ministry of Community and Social Services will provide $4.5 million - over five years - to create a province-wide crisis helpline and enhance crisis line counselling and referral services for the Francophone community.
The funding for the crisis line comes from the Victims' Justice Fund, which is used exclusively to assist victims.
The toll-free line will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and is expected to be fully operational by late spring 2002.
The new funding will be used to expand the Toronto-based Assaulted Women's Helpline into a province-wide crisis line. This line will ensure that women in all communities in Ontario have access to help.
The Assaulted Women's Helpline will continue its operations, while expanding its services to meet the diverse needs of women across Ontario. It will work with existing crisis lines and other support services throughout the province to reduce gaps and barriers in order to provide support, information and referrals for assaulted women.
Trained counsellors will answer calls, offer short-term crisis counselling, and provide information about local supports such as shelters, sexual assault centres, counselling services, legal services, income supports, and services for women and their children. Most importantly, counsellors will help callers develop an immediate safety strategy for themselves and their children.
Approximately $225,000 of the $4.5 million will be allocated over five years to enhance crisis line counselling and referral services for the Francophone community. The ministry will work directly with the Francophone community to determine how the funding can best be used.

Helping Women and their Children Escape Violence
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This investment will bring the Harris government's total spending to more than $145 million annually on violence against women prevention services. Of this amount, the Ministry of Community and Social Services will spend almost $86 million.

Domestic Violence Court Program
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The government is investing $21 million annually in the Domestic Violence Court Program, the largest, most comprehensive of its kind in Canada. An additional 31 locations will be created over the next three years, bringing the total number of sites province-wide to 55.
Domestic violence courts give priority to the safety and needs of domestic assault victims and their children. The program involves teams of specialized personnel, including police, Crown attorneys, Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff, probation services, offender counselling staff and cultural interpreters who work together to better coordinate services that are tailored to the needs of victims.

Support for Abused Women and their Children
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There are four key initiatives, in addition to the crisis helpline, in the Ministry of Community and Social Services' Violence Against Women (VAW) program that serves abused women and their children:

Shelters and Related Services

Shelters provide a range of services, including residential support for
women and their children, crisis telephone counselling, and
supportive/practical counselling to women while in the shelter and after
they start their new lives.

The Harris government is spending $26 million to create more shelter
spaces for women and their children fleeing abusive situations. With this
recently announced funding, 300 new beds will be provided and another 136
beds will be refurbished in women's shelters across the province.

The government also announced that it will spend an additional $3 million
in 2001/2002, growing to $9 million annually, for counselling and other
supports for these new beds.

An additional eight shelters are funded by the government through the
Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy.

Counselling

Counselling is provided to women by over 100 community-based agencies.
The purpose is to help women break the cycle of violence and rebuild
their lives.

Transitional Support Program

The Harris government is spending $5 million annually to operate a
transitional support program for abused women and their children.
Transitional Support Workers help abused women prepare for life after
leaving the shelter and teach them how to use the resources in their
communities to establish lives free of domestic violence for themselves
and their children.

Early Intervention Program for Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence

Another $5 million annually is being used to help children recover from
witnessing domestic violence in their homes. The program helps them
understand that violence and abuse is not their fault and assists mothers
in supporting their children.

Disponible en fran├žais

For more information visit http://www.gov.on.ca/CSS.
For further information: Dan Miles, Minister's Office, (416) 325-5215; Dianne Lone, Ministry of Community and Social Services, (416) 325-5156