The Government of Canada announced significant funding for Alberta on Thursday, to implement a provincially-led initiative to end gender-based violence in the province.
The total of $54.1 million dollars will be used by the province to create and deploy a 10-year-plan to address violence that predominantly affects women and girls, and disproportionately affects women of colour and Indigenous women.
The funding is being provided by the Government of Canada as part of the National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence as part of a bi-lateral agreement with Alberta.
“This plan will also address the root causes of gender based violence, support the shift to a culture of consent, engage men and boys, improve our response to sexual violence, and support survivors,” said Tanya Fir, Alberta’s Minister for Arts, Culture and the Status of Women.
“The $54 million in funding being announced today as a result of our negotiation with the federal government, and meets Albertan’s specific needs.”
Minister Fir said the next steps will be to meet with stakeholders and community to determine the best way to distribute the funding.
She said that the Government of Alberta would be launching a survey online at www.alberta.ca/gender-based-violence-engagement to solicit the input from Albertans on the issue of gender based violence.
Ending the cycle of violence
Lisa Hepfner, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, said that the funding would be used to start to shift the beliefs of men and boys towards violence, and to end intergenerational trauma.
“This work can’t just be done at the federal level. That’s why it’s so important that provincial and territorial partners like Alberta rolled up their sleeves and got to work with our government on exactly how we can address this issue in a way that responds to each jurisdictions unique needs and challenges,” she said.
“The response must include a minimum of 25 per cent funding dedicated to increasing prevention efforts, and it will be guided by our three federal priorities – increasing prevention efforts, reaching underserved and at risk populations, and stabilizing the gender based violence sector. And what does this mean stabilizing the sector? It means supporting organizations like YWCA Calgary and Fear Is Not Love which do incredible work.”
Parliamentary Secretary Hepfner said that with the announcement of the bi-lateral agreement with Alberta, that marked the federal government concluding agreements with all of the nation’s provinces and territories.
Money adds to work already being undertaken
Kim Ruse, CEO of Calgary based social service agency Fear Is Not Love—formerly known as the Calgary Emergency Women’s Shelter—said that there was already collaboration within the sector to gather and use data to directly address violence, and that the funding from the federal government was a welcome addition to the work being done.
“I’m really excited to hear that this is the process that will happen. There’s a survey out there, people will be able to feed into that, and our sector is really responsive and collaborative. So, I anticipate that we will work together with that information to create and amplify or create new resources where needed.”
In Calgary, she said, five emergency shelter organizations are using the Shelterlink app to find and coordinate shelter spaces for Women and families.
“We use that to coordinate and use our shelter spaces which are very rare and coveted, to use them really well, and to coordinate our resources around people to make sure that the people that need shelter the most actually get into shelter,” Ruse said.
Work is also being done to address violence against men and from men through the combination of men’s counselling and a men’s hotline.
“[Men & provides] lots of information digitally, including interactive toolkits that help men who are concerned about their behaviours and relationships to make a difference to get healthier relationships and that’s very collaborative effort as well,” Ruse said.
Additional federal dollars directly for Alberta organizations
The federal government announced an additional $3.7 million for eight Alberta based organizations—seven of them in Calgary—for community based research projects to address gender based violence.
Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal said that as of 2019, approximately 43 per cent of Albertans had experienced at least one incident of gender-based violence in their lifetime.
"I'm hopeful that the work under the national national action plan to end gender based violence will affect the lives of all Albertans in a positive way," said Chahal.
"Investing in front-line organizations that work to end gender-based violence is the right thing to do. These organizations provide life-saving services for women and children in Calgary, and they are a key part of our government’s plan to stop the root causes of violence."
The Canadian Pakistani Support Group Association, Association for the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women (ANIW), Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse Society, Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services, The Immigrant Education Society (TIES), Calgary Immigrant Women's Association, and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary will receive between $278,000 and $627,000 for their individual projects.