Violence prevention initiatives must address issues of poverty
NDP Justice and Status of Women Critic Gerry Rogers (St. John’s Centre) said the only way violence prevention initiatives are effective for women and girls is if the issues of poverty are addressed. “Unless government does something concrete about the housing crisis, the lack of affordable childcare and the inadequate minimum wage, women – particularly sole-support mothers, seniors and young women living in poverty – are left vulnerable and unable to escape violent situations,” Rogers said.
Rogers noted that, when it comes to violence prevention, there are no stand-alone issues. “If young women are economically vulnerable, then they are also vulnerable to exploitation – sometimes simply because they have no safe place to sleep,” she said.
Rogers pointed to the commissioning of a new report on sexual exploitation and the sex trade as an example of ground lost. “Government should have released the report it commissioned in 2011, and acted on its recommendations. If they had, we would be much further along by now,” said Rogers.
While Rogers is pleased to see the re-opening and expansion of the Domestic Violence Court, she was quick to note that “this court can only function with the necessary programming, provided by the expertise of community groups. Government must commit to appropriate funding for these programs.”
Rogers pointed to the need for multi-year funding for community groups, so they can retain staff and “do the crucial work we already know they do so well.”
“We need to seriously tackle the issue of poverty in our province,” said Rogers. “There’s a lot of work to be done, so let’s get to it!”