Ontario Improving Rural Services for Women Escaping Violence and Sexual Exploitation
BROCKVILLE - Ontario's Government for the People is improving supports in rural and remote communities for women who are victims of violence and sexual exploitation.
Ontario is investing $1.5 million in funding for rural frontline agencies to increase collaboration, strengthen service delivery, improve culturally relevant supports for Indigenous women, and reduce geographic and transportation barriers. This funding builds on the government's current investment of $174.5 million in funding for violence against women services.
"Where someone lives should not limit their access to services that help them begin the healing process and get their lives back on track," said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues. "It is crucial that we focus on getting the right supports in places where women need them most."
Survivors of violence often need transportation to counselling and legal appointments, access to safe beds, and services that protect their privacy, particularly for those living in close-knit communities. Funding will help promote awareness of these kinds of local services, address service gaps and build community capacity to support women in rural and remote communities who have experienced violence and sex trafficking.
The ministry will work collaboratively with service agencies and partners to enable rural service providers to deliver targeted localized supports and implement projects that build positive outcomes for women living in or from rural communities.
"We know that many victims of sex trafficking are moved frequently while they are being trafficked, and that after leaving horrible circumstances, survivors may choose to return home or to move to a new location in order to feel safer," said MacLeod. "We are working to make sure that the supports they need like housing, 24/7 crisis response, peer support, trauma therapy and counselling are available for them and their families no matter where they live."
"Our government wants victims of violence to be aware of all services available to meet their unique needs close to home," said Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. "By supporting projects that better coordinate services and raise awareness, we will help women and their children regain hope and begin to rebuild their lives."
"Sex trafficking is a problem that's far too complex for one person, organization or government to solve," said John Yakabuski, MPP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. "Collaboration is key, especially in rural communities. Everyone needs to work together – police, victim services, violence against women shelters and youth-focused organizations – to give the survivors of this terrible crime and their families every possible chance to heal and be safe."
- Rural and remote communities with relatively low population density, that are far from urban centres and are without year-round road access tend to have limited local service options.
- Police-reported rates of violence against women are higher in non-census metropolitan areas, including small cities, towns and rural areas, than within census metropolitan areas.
- Indigenous women are three times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime and three times more likely to experience spousal violence than non-Indigenous women.
- Survivors of sex trafficking from rural or remote communities often have to move outside of their community to access specialized services that meet their unique needs and are in a safe location away from their traffickers.