For immediate release – April 21, 2021
VANCOUVER, UNCEDED COAST SALISH HOMELANDS – With BC Budget 2021 released yesterday, the province has missed an historic opportunity to leverage the federal commitments to gender equity and rebuild crumbling provincial systems that have been gutted or allowed to languish over many decades.
“Today’s budget announcement is disappointing. We were hoping to see the provincial government accelerate the actions identified in ministerial mandate letters by leveraging the federal government’s funding commitments. Instead, the province has chosen to continue a slow, siloed approach that falls far short of the systems re-build we need.” says Raji Mangat, executive director of West Coast LEAF.
Access to justice remains an area of chronic underinvestment in the province. BC Budget 2021 makes no new investment in legal aid to support people fleeing family violence apart from recommitting to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that do not meet the needs of those most at risk of violence and coercion in their relationships. “The needs of many BC residents cannot be met through mediation or legal information services. People need legal help to navigate court processes, and that need has only increased over the course of the past year,” says Mangat.
West Coast LEAF has been working alongside other feminist organizations under the auspices of Women’s Shelters Canada to support the development of a National Action Plan to end Gender-Based Violence, to address the root causes of gendered violence in society. BC’s budget is regrettably silent on providing health-based or justice-sector supports or services for survivors of gender-based violence.
Mangat adds, “We want to see leadership at the provincial level to respond to gender-based violence with funding allocations that would support the commitments stated in ministerial mandate letters. The province is long overdue a coordinated approach to addressing violence against women, girls, and members of LGBTQIIA2S+ communities, and with this budget, we’re still waiting. Nearly two years after the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, families, advocates and community service agencies are left wondering how the province will address the Calls to Justice directed at provincial government.”
West Coast LEAF is hopeful that the announcement of new investments in mental health and substance use supports, including for youth, will make a positive impact on the overdose crisis in BC. As well, we are looking forward to seeing more details on the $41 million in funding allocated to child welfare, including support for alternatives to care arrangements, particularly regarding what supports and prevention services will be offered to family and kinship caregivers across the province.
For media inquiries, contact:
Executive Director, West Coast LEAF
604-684-8772, extension 218
About West Coast LEAF
West Coast LEAF is a non-profit organization formed in 1985, the year the equality guarantees of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into force. West Coast LEAF’s mandate is to use the law to create an equal and just society for all women and people who experience gender-based discrimination in BC. In collaboration with community, we use litigation, law reform, and public legal education to make change. For more information, visit http://www.westcoastleaf.org.