WHEREAS the Alberta Government Roundtable on Family Violence and Bullying (2004) defines Family Violence as including sexual abuse; and
WHEREAS the Alberta Association of Sexual Assault Centres (AASAC) was formed to advocate for a collaborative, coordinated approach to sexual assault service delivery in Alberta and has ten member centres in nine communities providing service in Alberta; and
WHEREAS sexual assault centres have been providing services in Alberta since 1976 and have a proven record of success in six core service areas for child and adult victims of sexual abuse and assault; crisis services, counseling, police and court support, education, outreach and volunteer support; and
WHEREAS the Alberta Roundtable on Family Violence, Framework for Action (2004) identifies that the provincial government has a specific leadership role to play in shifting from current funding models to long-term, sustainable approaches; and
WHEREAS the AASAC presented the provincial government with a funding plan for 2008-2011 that would extend core service areas to rural and remote Alberta communities; and
WHEREAS the provincial government’s stated goal is “to ensure that Albertans, especially children, feel safe and protected”;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the government of Alberta provide long term sustainable funding to sexual assault centres to extend their services to rural and remote communities in Alberta.
Sexual assault centres currently exist in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Lloydminster, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Strathcona and the University of Alberta. Although each centre establishes priority services for their community, there are identified core services that all sexual assault centres provide.
Crisis Services: Crisis workers provide victims with support, stabilization, risk assessment, information, referrals and hospital accompaniment
Counselling: Individual and group counselling for children, women and men
Police and Court Support: Options counselling, police accompaniment for reporting, court preparation and accompaniment, advocacy for victims through the court system
Education: Education, prevention and public information services
Outreach: Ensuring that services are available and accessible to diverse populations, rural communities, ensuring partnerships and collaborations are developed
Volunteer Support: Volunteer coordination, ensure effective and on-going training, supervision and recognition
Sexual assault centres are committed to providing quality services to victims of sexual abuse and assault. In order to provide these services long term, sustainable funding is necessary.
In June 2008 the AASAC presented the provincial government with a document titled “A Provincial Response to Sexual Violence: Extending the Service”. This plan outlined a year by year funding model with graduated increases from 2008 – 2011 that would allow each of the 10 sexual assault centres the ability to extend their services to outlying communities, thus fulfilling the province’s commitment to “make specialized services and supports available and accessible to people who have experienced sexual assaults as part of family violence”. This model called for total funding of $3.4 million by year 2010-11. The model was not adopted. Current provincial funding for sexual assault centres is $1.5 million.
Sexual assault centres have identified a continued need for services in rural communities that they are unable to address given the current funding level.g
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Children and Youth Services:
Children and Youth Services has maintained annual grant funding of $1.7 million (an increase from $500,000 provided in 2005/2006) to nine sexual assault centres and the provincial association, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services. This funding goes toward direct services for victims, including crisis counseling, police and court support, education, outreach and support to volunteers. Sexual assault centres have indicated this funding has allowed for greater program stability and service expansion.
Children and Youth Services, as co-ordination lead on the Prevention of Family Violence and Bullying Strategy, will continue to work closely with the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services and its ministry partners regarding service needs in rural and remote areas of the province. The majority of these centres are located outside the major cities.
In one instance, funding to the Providing Assistance, Counselling and Education (PACE) sexual assault centre in Grande Prairie has increased from $100,000 in 2006/2007 to $230,665 in 2010/2011, representing a 131 per cent increase in provincial funding to support the delivery of sexual assault services. PACE is also receiving $159,000 in grant funding from Children and Youth Service in 2010/2011 to provide a Safe Visitation site, allowing non-custodial parents to visit their children in a safe environment.
The AAMDC accepts this response as the efforts to meet the intent of this resolution that funding has been maintained. The past three provincial budgets have included slightly increased funding for the prevention of family violence and bullying demonstrating the governments’ commitment to provide sexual assault services across the province. The AAMDC will continue to monitor provincial budgets regarding the intent of this resolution.