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Anti-Violence Advocates Applaud First-Ever Significant Investment in a National Action Plan: Federal Budget

Ottawa, 20 April 2021

Women’s Shelters Canada applauds the federal government for making gender-based violence (GBV) a central consideration in Budget 2021.

The budget makes an overall investment of $600 million in initiatives that anti-violence experts have been calling for as part of a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women & Gender-Based Violence (NAP).

In addition to $14 million for the development and implementation of the NAP itself, $200 million for organizations that deal with GBV, $30 million for crisis hotlines, and $105 million for GBV prevention initiatives—including directly to Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations—through the Department for Women and Gender Equality, Budget 2021 reflects many ongoing recommendations from anti-violence experts through an all-of-government approach to addressing GBV by allocating critical support through multiple departments, including:

  • $30 billion for a Canada-wide early learning and affordable childcare system
  • $2.2 billion to help end the national tragedy of missing & murdered Indigenous women and girls
  • $250 million (reallocated) for transitional housing and shelter spaces for women and children fleeing violence and rental assistance for low-income women and children fleeing violence through the Canada Housing Benefit
  • $50 million for interventions that promote safe relationships and prevent family violence through the Public Health Agency of Canada
  • $85.3 million for independent legal advice and representation for victims of sexual assault and pilot projects for victims of intimate partner violence through Justice Canada
  • $28.4 million to support supervision services for parenting time in cases of separation and divorce to protect the safety and well-being of children and families through Justice Canada
  • $2 million to increase access to information and support for new Canadians facing family and gender-based violence through IRCC

“We are heartened to see the federal government recognize root causes and wider social implications of gender-based violence and systemic racism by spreading related investments across the budget,” says Lise Martin, executive director of Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC), a leading advocate for the NAP.

Last month, organizations that have been campaigning for 10 years for a NAP called on the federal government to show it takes escalating gender-based violence seriously by investing in establishing a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women & Gender-Based Violence (NAP), funding a diverse and sustainable women’s movement, and allocating sustainable and escalating amounts for prevention, education, and attitude change, for justice and policing reform, for stabilization of supports for survivors and their families, and for changing systems that perpetuate and maintain the conditions for violence not covered elsewhere in the budget, or where significant coordination is required to make an investment elsewhere that is responsive to GBV.

Advocates say the NAP investment announced yesterday will need to be allocated strategically so that future budgets can meet the broad scope of change that curbing gender-based violence, dubbed a shadow pandemic by the United Nations, requires.

“$14 million for establishing and implementing a National Action Plan is a very good start,” says Martin. “Alongside our partners, Women’s Shelters Canada looks forward to continuing to work closely with the federal government in the coming months to ensure the NAP gets off the ground with community-based anti-violence expertise.”

“Those at highest risk of violence must be central in the NAP: people living in rural and remote areas, Indigenous women, Black women, women with disabilities, women of colour, gender non-conforming, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.”

Over the past decade, the campaign for a NAP has provided successive governments with expert knowledge, findings, experiences, best practices, international models, and blueprints for a bold, ambitious, intersectional NAP on Violence Against Women & Gender-Based Violence.

At the end of 2020, WSC was asked and funded by the Department of Women and Gender Equality to develop a strategic framework for a NAP in collaboration with anti-violence experts across the country. Its full report will be ready April 30, outlining recommendations that can be actioned through a strategic, coordinated, government-funded process that will survive successive governments—hopefully through the new NAP Secretariat proposed in Budget 2021.

As the number of femicides, misogynist attacks, and gender-based assaults, abuse, and cyberbullying increases, various policies and pieces of legislation undertaken by governments over several decades have not significantly lowered the levels of violence experienced by women, girls, and gender-diverse people in Canada.

“Systemic problems need systemic solutions,” adds Martin. “We welcome the initial investments in Budget 2021 that get us much closer to that approach,” noting however that the NAP, once fully developed, will require billions not millions.

About the campaign for a NAP:

The call has been endorsed by 250+ organizations across Canada.

We are anti-violence leaders across Canada: experts, advocates, and survivors from national organizations, frontline service & support organizations, grassroots community groups, the labour movement, the law, academia, and the public.

Led by Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC), we have consulted and collaborated with stakeholders from coast to coast to coast to advocate for and develop a National Action Plan on VAW/GBV (NAP).

We define violence against women (VAW) and gender-based violence (GBV) as inclusive of cis women, trans women, and people of all marginalized genders, including Two-Spirit, trans, and non-binary people.

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For more information: https://endvaw.ca/nap-on-vaw/

For media enquiries, contact:
Kaitlin Bardswich, Communications and Development Manager
kbardswich@endvaw.ca

Women’s Shelters Canada brings together 14 provincial and territorial shelter organizations and supports the over 550 shelters across the country for women and children fleeing violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can find your nearest women’s shelter and its crisis line on www.sheltersafe.ca.