Mississauga rape crisis centre to be affected by lack of Ford government funds

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With Peel’s sexual assault numbers on the rise, resources for victims are crucial for Brampton and Mississauga.

However, a local facility says that, due to a lack of funding from the Doug Ford government, these resources and centres are being greatly affected.

Hope 24/7, which is based in Brampton but serves the entire Region of Peel, is a centre of excellence for clinical intervention and the prevention of relationship and sexual violence.

Working with people who are 12 years of age and older, they are an accredited community health provider and a feminist, pro-choice organization.

"Hope 24/7 offers treatment programs supporting individuals, couples and families. In addition, we offer prevention and outreach services focused on stopping sexual violence from occurring by raising awareness and providing psychoeducation about violence and violence against women and girls," said Chief Executive Officer for Hope 24/7, Laura Zilney.

Annually, Hope 24/7 works with an average of 4,000-5,000 clients; most who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence.

According to Zilney, Peel has never received equitable funding from any government since its inception in 1993.

"In large part, this is due to the fact that there is not a funding formula applied to Sexual Assault Centres (SACs). This means that those SACs in existence longer, or with more active politicians in their region, have received monies over the years that are not applied equally," said Zilney.

In January 2018, the Liberal government signed the first-ever 3-year contract for SACs, according to Zilney.

This contract included a small increase to core funding, bringing their new core funding amount $584,372.80, to align with commitments made in the second sexual violence action plan.

"In July 2018, Hope, along with all SACs, was informed that the new amount was eliminated and Hope was back to receiving $459,242.80," said Zilney, explaining that some organizations had already spent some of those funds at that point.

"In addition, the government is increasing funding to organizations that do not provide services. For instance, CMHA Peel does not provide mental health professional supports, mostly focusing on case navigation and management. They get an increase in funding, hire more people, intake more clients, and then send them all to us with no financial supports,” she said.

According to Zilney, Hope 24/7 receives only $0.27 per capita to work with the 1.7 million residents of Peel and they receive 3 per cent of what the average SAC receives, with over 70 per cent of SACs getting $1 or more per capita to operate.

Hope 24/7 is the second-lowest funded SAC in Ontario after Toronto, which does not provide treatment, according to Zilney.

"When we lose a clinician, our wait will increase by another 5-8 months. We will also have to transition her clients to other therapists, thereby making the clients’ healing journey that much longer," she said.

"We perform in the top 5 per cent of community health organizations. We need to be adequately funded at a minimum $1 per capita, like over 70 per cent of SACs," Zilney added.

According to Statistics Canada, since 2016, reports of sexual assaults in Ontario have been on the rise. From 7,434 incidents, the numbers spiked in 2017 to 8,782.

In 2018, the number spiked again to 10,634.

People located in the Peel Region who are in crisis after a sexual assault may call Hope 24/7 at 1-800-810-0180 for 24-hour assistance.

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