Honourable Laurel Broten,
Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues,
Minister of Children and Youth Services
56 Wellesley Street West,
Toronto ON M5S 2S3
Dear Minister Broten,
We were pleased with the release of Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan at the beginning of March 2011. The Plan’s expansion of the definition of sexual violence is encouraging for women who have experienced sexual violence but are uncertain about what offences may or may not be prosecutable. The objectives to increase awareness and education for Police and members of the Justice System are timely and we are hopeful will increase the level of comfort women have with regard to reporting incidents of sexual violence.
However, we have learned that Victim Services Toronto is not one of the organizations scheduled to receive funding from the Sexual Violence Action Plan’s four-year $15 million dollar investment. Victim Services Toronto is a vital front-line agency that provides proactive support services to victims of sexual violence 24 hours, seven days a week. This organization has not received a cost of living increase for the last two decades and is in danger of cuts to important services.
In a March 8, 2011 press release, MPP Cheri DiNovo noted, “the funding per victim for the Victim Crisis Response Program has dropped from $286 in 1990 to $31 in 2010. If the government is serious about a Sexual Violence Action Plan, then Victim Services needs to be sustainably funded to ensure that the critical services they provide are available for all victims.” In addition, Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board stated, “Victim Services is a critical component of our response to crime, performing an essential role in terms of supporting the victims”.
As past recipients of support services from Victim Services Toronto, we know that they provide critical services to victims of sexual violence and are in need of funding to sustain the high level of service they currently deliver. We implore you to amend the Sexual Violence Action Plan’s budget to allocate funds to Victim Services Toronto, which is the only agency in Toronto providing immediate front-line assistance, to ensure that this valuable organization continues to support victims of sexual violence every hour of every day.
Sexual Violence Advocates
cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Bob Rae, MP Toronto-Centre
Glen Murray, MPP Toronto Centre
Cheri DiNovo, MPP Parkdale-High Park
Bonnie Levine, Executive Director of Victim Services Toronto
Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.