Help For Victims Of Woman Abuse
The government is expanding the services of four programs that help victims of domestic violence, who are overwhelmingly women, so that they can get help faster and be better protected from further harm. The new $8.2 million for these programs brings their total funding to $47.4 million, a 17 per cent funding increase.
VICTIM/WITNESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The government is providing $1.7 million for a new Early Victim Contact initiative as part of the $20.4 million Victim/Witness Assistance Program. Twenty-three new staff throughout the province will ensure victims of domestic violence are contacted within 24 hours of being informed that charges have been laid, to help them get the services they need more quickly, as part of the Domestic Violence Court Program. The Victim/Witness Assistance Program helped more than 41,000 Ontarians last year. It provides information, assistance, referrals and support to victims and witnesses of crime throughout the criminal court process in all 54 court districts across the province.
PARTNER ASSAULT RESPONSE PROGRAM
The Partner Assault Response Program is receiving $2 million in additional annual funding for a total of $10.6 million. These specialized counselling/educational programs help address the roots of domestic violence by holding offenders accountable for their actions. The programs, part of the Domestic Violence Court Program, are 16 weeks long and provide participants with an opportunity to examine the beliefs and attitudes that they have used to justify their abusive behaviour and to learn non-abusive ways of resolving conflict. Outreach and referrals are also provided to the victims and partners of the offenders involved in the Partner Assault Response Program.
SUPERVISED ACCESS PROGRAM
The Supervised Access Program is receiving $4 million in new annual funding for a total of $8.4 million. Supervised access centres provide a safe and secure setting for separated families. Visits with children and exchanges of children between parents, or between a parent and a relative, such as a grandparent, take place under the supervision of trained staff and volunteers. Last year, 99 per cent of 50,545 visits and exchanges for 1,897 individual children occurred without incident at funded supervised access services. The program is delivered through partnerships with community-based organizations such as children's mental health centres and neighbourhood support centres. The services are offered at 79 sites in 52 court districts.
BAIL SAFETY PROGRAM
The government is providing $500,000 in new annualized funding as part of the $8 million Bail Safety Program, which is offered in 10 Ontario locations. This program provides trained teams of Crown prosecutors, victim services staff and police to conduct in-depth interviews with victims of domestic violence at the bail stage. This is a time of high risk for victims. The Bail Safety Program helps identify high-risk situations, allowing Crown prosecutors to make better recommendations at bail hearings to help stop the cycle of violence.