Gov’t not in tune with realities of sex assault victims

Opinion

To the Editor:

In a province where the rate of sexual assault is well above the national average, the government does not seem tuned in to the realities of survivors — or the community-based organizations working to support them.

Many groups that received funding through the provincial Sexual Assault Strategy to provide therapeutic counselling services are losing that funding (as of Saturday, March 31). The Strategy enabled organizations across the province to do important prevention and awareness work that resulted in more survivors stepping forward and seeking help.

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Although the provincial budget includes $800,000 to support the work of four organizations providing trauma-informed services, this falls far short of the $2 million investment that the Sexual Assault Services Network of Nova Scotia has been calling for.

This bare-minimum approach neglects entire regions of the province. Do the needs of survivors in these areas not matter to the government?

As I have said repeatedly in Question Period, it’s not like sexual violence is just going to go away after two years of implementing a strategy. On the contrary, the need for sexual assault services is growing, and more than ever we need a comprehensive model that reaches all communities. Listening to the organizations that have expertise and experience in working with survivors would be a good start.

As a survivor myself, I know first-hand how important this is to women, men, trans people and youth in our province. It can be scary to walk through the door for the first time and ask for help. Let’s not make it even harder for individuals by closing that door.

Lenore Zann

MLA, Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River

NDP Spokesperson for the Status of Women