Ontario government denies extra funding to sexual assault centres

Advocates for Ontario’s 42 sexual assault centres say the provincial government will not renew a $1-million funding boost next year, even though demand for services is rising.

The Progressive Conservative government gave the centres an additional “one-time” $1-million in funding last spring, but the groups had hoped the extra money would be renewed. It expires on March 31.

With the rise of the #MeToo movement, which encourages victims of sexual assault to speak about their experiences, the centres say they have seen an increase in demand for services, such as individual counselling and crisis lines. But waiting times for free services in Ontario can stretch on for months or even years. Without additional government funding, the centres say their waiting lists will grow.

Deb Singh, a counsellor and advocate with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre (TRCC), said Attorney-General Doug Downey personally informed the centres about the decision late last week.

“Our services are under attack,” Ms. Singh said. “What we were able to do with that [money] was remarkable.”

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