SASS applauds funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada for crisis hotlines, hopes for implementation of 24-hour provincial crisis line
On Monday, February 27, the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Canada alongside Honourable Laura Ross, Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Office in Saskatchewan announced $1M in funding to support crisis hotlines across Saskatchewan.
The funding call comes as a response to the dramatic surge in crisis calls from June to October 2020, when the COVID-19 lockdown measures first ease. Statistics Canada also reported that out of the 10 provinces, Saskatchewan had second highest rates of family violence, police-reported family violence against children and youth, and intimate partner violence.
Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan (SASS) attended the announcement at the
Saskatchewan Science Centre in Regina alongside other community organizations who are
working to address and prevent gender-based violence in the province. Kerrie Isaac, Executive Director at SASS, is pleased to see distribution of funds being allocated to front-line agencies across the province. However, as per the Working Together Saskatchewan Sexual Violence Action Plan, and Sexual Violence in Saskatchewan: Voices, Stories, Insights, and Actions from the Front Lines research (2020), SASS would like to see additional funds being allocated to the development and implementation of a provincial 24-hour sexual violence crisis and referral service.
SASS’s work is guided by the realities of survivor experiences in Saskatchewan. Our 2020 study engaged 1,000 survivors and service providers across the province including urban, rural, remote and northern communities. We received feedback on the urgent need for a province-wide crisis line that responds to the unique circumstances impacting those experiencing sexualized violence and related gendered violence.
“While the crisis line funding will help to increase capacity in the short-term for front-line member agencies responding to crisis calls, it does not offer long-term support that can sustain the high volume of crisis calls being made on a daily basis, particularly in rural and remote communities. In addition, front-line agencies are already overwhelmed by high demand for client services. The development of a 24-hour sexual violence crisis line would help to reduce the overwhelming workload of front-line agencies,” says Isaac.