Ontario premier Doug Ford was elected on a platform that promised to find billions of dollars in efficiencies in Ontario’s provincial budget. For a year after he and his majority Conservative government were sworn in, FLARE kept a running tally on what exactly the Ford government cut (or said they intended to cut) and what the consequences might be. And just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean that the cuts or cancellations have stopped, because new year definitely does not mean a new DoFo. Here, everything the Conservative government has cut, cancelled or changed in 2020.
Cancelled: $1 Million funding boost for rape crisis centres across the province
On March 4, it was publicly announced that 42 rape crisis centres across Ontario will not be receiving an additional $1 million in funding, despite receiving the financial boost in 2019. Speaking to CBC, Deb Singh, chair of the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, said that the $1 million boost—a part of the $14.8 million dollars Ontario rape crisis centres receive each year from the Ministry of the Attorney General—helped reduce wait times for victims seeking help from 18 months in October 2018 to six months at the beginning of 2020. Frontline workers fear that the cancellation of this additional funding will increase wait times and limit services for sexual assault survivors.
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While service providers told CBC that there was no expectation the additional funding would be renewed, service providers hoped the province would recognize the need for added support for sexual assault victims, stemming from increased demands on rape centres amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
In a statement on March 4, a spokesperson for the attorney general said: “Our government delivered on its guarantee to maintain funding to the Ministry of the Attorney General’s victims services programs, including sexual assault centres, at $60.2 million as a part of our commitment to support victims of crime and their families while holding offenders accountable. As our work continues to find ways of directing more resources and tools to the front-lines of victims supports across the Ontario government, we will be maintaining the same funding guarantee in 2020-21.”
The announcement came just a day after the province announced a new mental health strategy that will provide free therapy for people with anxiety or depression.