Treats are nice. But they don’t replace funding for crisis centres

Posted on in Child & Family Delivery System

Source: — Authors: – Opinion/Editorials
Feb. 19, 2019.   By

The Shoebox Project, which provides women in shelters with a pretty box of toiletries and treats, has been getting quite a bit of attention in Ontario’s legislature lately.

The shoeboxes were brought up during speeches marking Woman Abuse Prevention Month in November, on the December anniversary of the misogynistic shooting of 14 women at Montreal’s L’Ecole Polytechnique, and repeatedly leading into the holiday season.

Certainly it’s a nice charity. But all the while that Progressive Conservative MPPs have been applauding the Shoebox Project — co-founded by one of their own, Attorney General Caroline Mulroney — they have been withholding the funds that survivors of sexual violence desperately need.

Almost a year ago, Ontario’s rape crisis centres were promised a 30-per-cent increase in funding over three years to catch up to the rising demand for services. But the Ford government put that Liberal plan on hold.

That funding would come from Mulroney’s ministry and she has refused to say when, or even if, it will flow.

That has left more than 30 centres across Ontario unable to properly meet the need. The Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres was expecting an increase of roughly $100,000 for each centre in the first year. That would have been enough to hire another person to provide support services and counselling. Wait-lists for those services are growing.

The sexual assault services centre in Muskoka, for example, is managing three times the counselling caseload with the same staff levels it had in the 1990s, when it first opened. It’s now fundraising in an effort to meet the needs of trauma survivors who, according to the centre, have high rates of addiction, suicidal thoughts and risk of further violence.

That centre is in the riding of PC MPP Norm Miller — and he took the time in the legislature last November to mention how much he was looking forward to delivering shoeboxes for his community.

While small gestures, like a shoebox of treats, can be nice, touting them at the very time that the government is failing to provide for real needs heads towards smokescreen territory.

The legislature reconvenes on Tuesday after a two-month break. It’s long past time that Progressive Conservative MPPs make the leap from talking about the problems of sexual violence against women and the benefits of charitable acts, to actually providing badly needed government-funded services.

These women need counselling and other services that the woefully underfunded rape crisis centres are struggling to provide.

Charitable gifts serve to remind women that they have not been forgotten. What does that even more effectively is making sure a qualified person answers the crisis hotline, and that counselling will be available during a woman’s greatest hour of need.

But the wait-list for counselling at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, as NDP MPP Suze Morrison told the legislature months ago, is a staggering 18 months. “You should not have to wait a year and a half to get access to the services you need,” Morrison said.

She’s right. So is Liberal Nathalie Des Rosiers. “Sexual assault centres need to be funded, and (Mulroney) needs to do it now,” Des Rosiers said.

Four months ago, Mulroney said her government was reviewing rape crisis centre programs to make sure they are “effective and efficient,” and “we will have more to say on that in the future.”

There’s still been no advance on that. So for rape crisis centres there’s nothing but uncertainty. On the Shoebox Project, Mulroney has been more definitive.

Shoeboxes, she says on the website, “act as a powerful message to a woman in need that says, ‘someone in your community believes that you’re beautiful, that you’re important, and that you deserve to be happy’.”

It’s time this government started sending that same message by funding the crisis services a rising number of women desperately need to help them regain their belief that they’re beautiful, important and deserve to be happy.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 at 2:09 pm and is filed under Child & Family Delivery System. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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