Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Vows to Help Sex Violence Victim Support Groups

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Vows to Help Sex Violence Victim Support Groups

Article excerpt

Plan would help sex assault victims: Liberals

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HALIFAX - A promise to bring in a plan aimed at preventing sexual violence in Nova Scotia by giving victim support groups predictable funding was the focus of the Liberal party's election campaign Thursday, which also saw the NDP give more details on replacing long-term care beds and the Progressive Conservatives commit to changing the tax system to end what's known as bracket creep.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil reiterated his commitment to spend $6 million over three years on a strategy to prevent sexual assault and provide stable, multi-year funding to support the work of frontline groups if his party wins the Oct. 8 election.

"We want to be their partner," said McNeil, who didn't reveal how much funding victim support groups would get.

"They've been under-resourced and we want to make sure they have the resources they need to deliver the services."

Irene Smith, executive director of the Halifax-based Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, said the commitment was a good start.

"I'm particularly encouraged with the fact that they are talking about core, stable funding, which is something we have been struggling with for years," said Smith.

She said her organization is receiving $650,000 in provincial funding this year to support programs and hire staff. But she said that falls short of what's needed across the province.

Premier Darrell Dexter said the NDP is also committed to developing a comprehensive sexual assault strategy that will contain consistent multi-year funding.

"We've already said that it is part of our plan to have a fully funded sexual assault strategy," said Dexter.

He added several initiatives have also been undertaken by his government through a cross-departmental committee. The government struck the committee in response to the death of Rehtaeh Parsons.

The 17-year-old took her own life in April. Her family says she endured months of bullying at school following the circulation of a digital photo of her allegedly being sexually assaulted.

The government's committee released a report at the end of August recommending 13 actions to deal with sexual violence and bullying including a social marketing campaign to influence related behaviours and the development of safety protocols with school boards and police. …

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