A trio of Saanich councillors is asking the provincial government to fund services that help survivors of sexual assault.
Coun. Ned Taylor, with the support of Couns. Colin Plant and Zac de Vries, has submitted a report calling on the province to fund the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre on an “ongoing and continuous” basis.
“It is crucial that victims of sexual assault receive adequate support,” said Taylor. “The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre is providing sexual assault victims across the CRD with the support they need. However, this non-profit organization needs continuous, reliable funding in order to continue to provide that support.”
The appeal comes after Saanich granted the organization $35,000 towards the operation of an integrated clinic where victims of sexual assault receive a number of services including medical exams, forensic tests and crisis support in one central location. Police detachments across the region including Saanich Police have used the clinic in the 3000 block of Cedar Hill Road to interview survivors.
Startup funding for the facility came from the provincial government, but Grace Lore, a VSAC spokesperson, said in an interview earlier this week that this grant does not come with any funding to ensure operation in subsequent years.
The current funding model relies on grants and donations, a model not “feasible for survival,” said Lore.
“We need to move away from this model,” she said. “We are living on the edge of uncertainty,” she added later. This uncertainty has already affected other services. Last year, the centre closed the crisis line it had maintained for 30 years to keep the clinic open.
Taylor’s appeal cites this development in asking the provincial government to fund the organization. “It is the responsibility of the [province] to adequately fund [health services] throughout the province,” he said. “It is not the responsibility of [municipalities] to fund [health services].”
Taylor also hopes to build a regional coalition of support for the centre. The report also asks the mayor’s office to approach the Capital Regional District and its municipal members for support by asking them to echo Saanich’s appeal to the province.