TORONTO - Today, Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues released the following statement regarding new measures to support people experiencing or at risk of sexual assault, gender-based violence and human trafficking during COVID-19:
"May is Sexual Assault Prevention Month, an important time to recognize those on the frontlines who are working each and every day to prevent sexual assault, gender-based violence and human trafficking. These professionals are dedicated and compassionate individuals who give selflessly to support those most in need.
Clearly, these extraordinary times are creating extraordinary challenges. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak there has been an increased risk of gender-based violence for many individuals who have been staying home and practicing physical distancing for weeks now.
It is crucial that Ontarians who have experienced or are at risk of sexual assault, gender-based violence or human trafficking have continued access to counselling and other critical services they need to stay safe, heal and rebuild their lives.
To further support those who need and rely on these services, our government is investing $1 million to help frontline agencies adapt to remote service delivery and ensure continued operation during COVID-19.
This funding will assist counselling service providers like the Assaulted Women's Helpline, who also work the Seniors Safety Line, which will receive $200,000 to develop text and online chat platforms, set up toll-free lines, provide on-demand interpreter services and hire additional staff to respond to increased call volume.
Along with the $40 million relief fund for residential service providers and emergency funding for victim services we have already provided, this response fund will ensure a range of critical supports remain available at this time. This is in addition to our government's large investment of $148 million in relief funding to ensure municipalities and social service providers can better respond to COVID-19.
Together with our partners across Ontario, our government remains committed to preventing sexual assault, gender-based violence and human trafficking, as well as supporting victims, survivors and those at risk of these crimes. Again, I would like to express my deep appreciation to those on the frontlines who are working tirelessly to ensure that people experiencing sexual and gender-based violence receive the support they need in this uncertain and difficult time."