In Question Period, I asked the Minister of Health or the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General which one of them was taking responsibility for ensuring specialized services are available to sexual assault survivors. British Columbia is home to the Victoria Sexual Health Centre, an integrated clinic that offers medical, police and counselling services in one location. It is a model that has proven, both medically and fiscally, to provide better care at a lower cost. All communities deserve this level of support.
S. Furstenau: On Tuesday this week, government tabled a bill to legislate five days’ paid leave for survivors of domestic or sexualized violence. It is an absolutely crucial change and one that our caucus is proud to support. Ensuring that survivors have the ability to take off time when they need to seek medical care, meet with law enforcement or access emergency counselling services following an assault is critical, as is ensuring those services are there when they go to look for them.
In many areas of our province, this is not the case. The decision by multiple governments over many decades to consistently underfund the medical and justice services needed by survivors of sexualized violence is inherently sexist and dangerous to women. It does not have to be this way.
As we raised the question in question period on Monday, B.C. is home to an integrated clinic that offers medical, police and counselling services in one location, and it is a model that has proven, both medically and fiscally, to provide better care at a lower cost. All communities deserve this level of support.
My question is to either the Minister of Health or the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Given the overlap and intersection between health and justice in cases of sexualized violence, which one of you is taking responsibility for ensuring these specialized services are available to survivors when they leave work to look for them?
Hon. M. Farnworth: I thank the honourable member for that very important question. All ministries in government take this issue that she has raised extremely seriously, whether it’s my ministry or the Ministry of Health or other ministries in government. That’s why I can tell you that in terms of the work that my ministry does around sexualized violence, we’re spending right now more than $37 million a year to more than 400 agencies providing services right across the province.
The member talks about the centre in Victoria, which I visited, which I believe actually serves as a model for potential services around the province to deal with sexualized violence, to look at them in a way that serves each community in the way that meets the needs of those particular communities. That’s why that service has received and is into the second year of a $200,000 grant, and I’m looking forward to receiving a grant application for the funding in this coming year. We will continue to make these services a priority right across the province.
Mr. Speaker: House Leader, Third Party on a supplemental.
S. Furstenau: I’m pleased that the minister agrees that the Victoria clinic is a model. However, they did make a funding request for Budget 2020, which was rejected. That request would have helped with sending communities and clinics the capacity to build up this model across the province.
Providing people with effective medical and police support are not elective services to be thrown grant money if we have some left over at the end of the year. These are essential government services, and it’s not enough to just focus on clinics in major cities. People are assaulted in literally every community in the province, and we cannot pretend that these rates aren’t impacted by government’s priorities.
As the final report from the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry stated, there is substantial evidence linking major resource extraction projects and violence against Indigenous women. This government can find billions of dollars to subsidize these projects, and yet when we need the millions to respond to the consequences, they aren’t there.
My question is to the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. How much will it take to get funding to these clinics around the province? And which minister will stand up and fight for this?
Hon. M. Farnworth: As I said a moment ago, each ministry in government takes these issues extremely seriously. And as I outlined, that’s why funding has been increased in the budget since we became office. That’s why an additional $5 million each year and an additional $3 million on top of that funding is in place in this year’s budget.
As I said, I want to see these kinds of services extended around the province but in a way that meets the needs of particular communities. We have committed by the actions that we have taken to date. As I’ve said in the case of the Victoria centre, which I think is doing excellent work, I’m looking forward to receiving their grant application. Base funding has increased in other areas of government. As I can tell you, this is a priority, and it will continue to be one.