For Immediate Release – February 22, 2022
VICTORIA (Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories) – Today, the provincial government released Budget 2022. While West Coast LEAF welcomes the government’s commitment to providing core funding to community-based sexual assault response organizations, Budget 2022 fails to reverse other damaging services cuts that have undermined survivors of gender-based violence in B.C.
Budget 2022 commits $22 million of incremental funding over 3 years to approximately 50 community-based sexual assault response organizations, undoing cuts made to these services in 2002. However, the province has yet to reverse decades of cuts to and the systemic underfunding of the family law legal aid system.
“Budget 2022 fails to make access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence a priority despite the escalation in family and gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Humera Jabir, Staff Lawyer at West Coast LEAF. “The province needs to commit funding to improve access to justice to the family law courts and legal aid services so survivors of gender-based violence can build secure and safe lives.”
“While we are glad to see funding for sexual assault services, the province has not committed funds to a comprehensive response to gender-based violence, or to acting on the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, though nearly three years have passed since the Inquiry,” adds Jabir.
In the past year, the truth of residential schools and the Indigenous children who never returned home has become widely known. Despite this grave moment in our history, Budget 2022 does not reflect the importance of keeping Indigenous families together, specifically by addressing the over-representation of Indigenous children in government care today. Budget 2022 does not direct any specific supports to kinship caregivers who are raising children and who are critical to keeping Indigenous children in their communities.
A key positive advancement in Budget 2022 includes $284 million dollars in funding for childcare services. The province plans to create 30,000 new licensed spaces in the next five years and cut average fees to approximately $20 dollars a day. This multi-year commitment is an important plan to advance gender equity in B.C.
However, Budget 2022 also lets down women and people who are marginalized by their gender. The province has not kept its 2020 election promise to make prescription contraception free in B.C despite calls from Access BC and other organizations that it fulfill this promise.
Iman Baobeid, Manager of Communications
West Coast LEAF