It's Never Okay: Ontario's Gender-based Violence Strategy
It's Never Okay: Ontario's Gender-based Violence Strategy is an up to $242-million framework that will help support survivors and address the root causes of violence.
The strategy will include:
Improving Services and Supports
Up to $181.8 million in investments, including:
Up to $84.2 million over three years to increase the number of people served through direct services such as community based counselling, provincial and regional crisis telephone lines, emergency shelters, transitional housing supports, Sexual Assault Centres and legal supports. Service access for targeted diverse populations including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Two Spirit (LGBTQI2S) and other marginalized communities will also be expanded.
Up to $22.8 million over three years for Victim Services Programs that provide trauma-informed supports and crisis response to victims of crime, including domestic violence, assault and human trafficking.
Up to $52.2 million over three years in capital investments to meet the needs of new service delivery models, including addressing significant accessibility renovations or leading to the creation of more culturally appropriate space at Indigenous shelters.
Up to $14.8 million over three years to increase the capacity of Sexual Assault Centres and the Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse programs, to meet the growing demand for services and help more vulnerable populations, such as mature minors. The increased investment will also help increase access to services for survivors in rural communities.
Ontario will also invest in enhancing access to safe spaces for women and children, counselling, services in rural/remote communities, and innovation initiatives. This will mean:
- Up to 1,000 more women and children will be provided with a safe bed
- At least 600 women will get housing supports through the Transitional Housing Support Program
- More individuals from diverse populations will be provided inclusive, culturally-appropriate and safe services within shelters and culturally-accessible counselling (e.g. LGBTQI2S, Indigenous, Francophone, immigrant and racialized)
- 2,000 more women and children will get counselling they need along with long-term counselling to support transitions from crisis to stability.
Up to $7.8 million over three years to expand the Language Interpreter Services (LIS) Program. LIS provides spoken and sign language interpreter services 24 hours a day 7 days a week for victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. The program enables survivors of gender-based violence to access the broader service system.
Intervening Early and Effectively
Children who have seen or experienced violence are twice as likely to be at risk of violence and victimization. Ontario is investing up to $29.7 million over three years to ensure children will have access to the services they need to help them deal with trauma. Investments will provide preventative and early interventions for children and youth to prevent the cycle of violence, including:
- Expanding the Child Witness Program to offer individual counselling, in addition to the existing group counselling delivery model, and to increase supports to Indigenous-led preventative services. New investments will support the hiring of child and youth workers or early childhood educators to work on site at violence against women emergency shelters.
- Family breakdowns are a time when violence is most likely to occur. Our strategy will provide supports to survivors navigating the family court process who may be at heightened risk of violence with increased funding to the Family Court Support Worker Program.
- Enhancing support for the Supervised Access Program with new funding of $2.3 million over three years to address services pressures and help keep children safe from violence during family separation.
Changing Attitudes and Norms
With an investment of up to $12.9 million, the government will focus on professional development and innovation expansion through new bystander and community training, including:
- providing more professionals in a wider range of sectors with the tools to recognize and intervene in situations of violence in their workplaces and with their clients
- supporting evidence-based/tested approaches to prevent violence and serve more survivors
- aiming to challenge the underlying conditions, attitudes, behaviours and values that lead to violence.
Investments of up to $2.3 million over three years to extend the Creative Engagement Fund Fund will support artistic projects that raise awareness and provoke discussions about sexual violence and harassment. Additional funding will also support the continued valuable advice of the Roundtable on Violence Against Women.
Improving Justice System Responses
Ontario will extend and expand our free independent legal advice for survivors of sexual assault provincewide so survivors can get advice on their options at any point after a sexual assault has occurred.
Piloting Canada's first ever dedicated LGBTQ+ Community Legal Clinic and facilitate training on safer and inclusive spaces for the over 70 community legal clinics across Ontario.
Up to $10.5 million over three years to support the Partner Assault Response (PAR) program to provide specialized group education and counselling for domestic violence offenders. This will help increase victim safety by providing additional capacity and allow for the development of differential program options to help reduce re-offence rates.
Developing new policing standards on sexual assault and domestic violence investigations.
Working with justice and community partners to explore innovative and alternative justice approaches to enhance the choices available to survivors of sexual violence
Building on our legacy
It's Never Okay: Ontario's Gender-based Violence Strategy builds on a number of programs the province is already implementing to support victims of gender-based violence:
- It's Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, which helped change attitudes, improve supports for survivors who come forward about abuse, and make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment.
- The Domestic Violence Action Plan, which provided better community supports for survivors, supported training of front-line workers and professionals, promoted public education and prevention, and improved Ontario's criminal and family justice systems to better protect women and their children.
- Ontario's Strategy to End Human Trafficking, which focused on prevention and early intervention, subsidies to affordable housing
- The Long Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, in which Ontario and Indigenous communities are coming together to end the cycle of violence and ensure future generations of Indigenous women can live with safety and respect.