With my co-chair Farrah Khan, I have been proud to serve as co-chair of Ontario’s Provincial Roundtable on Violence Against Women. Established in 2015, the Roundtable has provided strategic advice to government on emerging issues related to violence against women.
Through the Roundtable’s ongoing engagement with government and sector partners, we have achieved policy and program change, including provisions in #Bill148, the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act, to provide paid leave to employees who experience domestic or sexual violence.
It’s expensive not to address gender-based violence: it has impacts from health to criminal law process to the economy. Justice Canada estimates the total economic impact of domestic violence on employers annually in Canada is about $78 million.
This week, Farrah and I have made the difficult decision to resign as Roundtable co-chairs, because of the present government’s lack of response to any of our inquiries. This is our personal decision and does not reflect the opinions of our workplaces or members of the Roundtable.
Since June 7th 2018, we have contacted the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney a number of times to discuss the serious issue of gender-based violence in Ontario, with no response.
Violence against women in Ontario has reached a crisis state. According to @CAN_Femicide 50% of the femicides in Canada this year were in Ontario. 53 women have died due to femicide in this province from Jan-August. This is a crisis.
Demand for sexual assault services increases as awareness increases. In 2016, there were 50,000 calls to sexual assault crisis lines in Ontario. These requests have increased in the wake of high-profile cases of sexual violence and the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
Many community-based organizations work tirelessly to support women fleeing violence and advocate for law and policy reform. These organizations and the people who turn to them deserve to be supported by a provincial government that addresses all forms of violence against women.
Farrah and I will continue to advocate for a world without violence. We are grateful for the three years of working with our visionary and brilliant Roundtable colleagues. We look forward to continuing to work with and learn from them.
Gender-based violence is a serious issue, entrenched in every community – from rural to northern to urban – in this province. Ending this violence requires focused government attention in collaboration with community partners not silence.