TORONTO: The Ontario government is investing an additional $2.1 million to provide new supports and services for victims of crime in Leeds-Grenville, Dufferin County and the Nipissing region – historically underserved areas of the province.
Enhancing sexual violence support services for victims, increasing crisis intervention services and expanding free legal advice is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.
“Ontario is committed to protecting and supporting victims of crime in every region of our province, including in rural and Northern communities,” said Attorney General Doug Downey.
“The investments in the 2021 Budget will help ensure victims and survivors can access supports and services when they are needed most, no matter where they live.”
The three-year investment will establish new sexual violence support services in Leeds-Grenville and Dufferin County.
The services will support female victims and survivors of sexual assault through counseling, peer support, advocacy and 24-hour crisis support by phone. In addition, 24/7 assistance to victims and their families will be expanded in the Nipissing region to increase access to crisis intervention services for area residents.
The province is also providing up to four hours of free legal advice to survivors of sexual assault. Initially launched as a pilot in Toronto, Ottawa and the District of Thunder Bay, the program will be available province-wide by phone or video effective May 1, 2021.
Ontario will be engaging with victim services providers in the weeks ahead on the implementation of these new services and supports.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an alarming increase in domestic violence, which has disproportionately impacted women and children,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board.
“Our government will always stand up for victims of crimes – and we are doing just that through Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, by providing
additional funding to expand support services for victims in underserved communities.”
“It is critically important local services are available for victims and survivors of sexual assault, gender-based violence and human trafficking so they have access to help close to home,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.
“This new investment adds to the $3.6 million we invested last year in rural and remote services to help more women get the supports they need.”
The government is also modernizing the Office for Victims of Crime, an advisory body to the Attorney General, by diversifying the representation of victims’ voices and perspectives through increased membership.
“We are incredibly pleased about the expansion of services for survivors of sexual violence, and thrilled that today’s announcement includes changes to the membership of the Office for Victims of Crime that will help ensure diverse voices from throughout the province are infused into our work,” said Ruth Campbell, Chair of the Office for Victims of Crime.
Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. With vaccines being distributed, hope is on the horizon. Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy provides the resources necessary to finish the battle with COVID-19, building on the government’s record investments to protect health and jobs during the global pandemic.
• The 2021 Budget investments in supports for victims of crime and survivors build on an additional $6 million in funding, announced in April 2020 and February 2021, to support victims and front-line workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
• Ontario is also increasing the accountability, oversight and service delivery of victim services organizations through a new complaints resolution and feedback approach.
• Ontario is working with victim service organizations to improve collaboration across the sector and make it easier for victims to find services.