BWSS Submission to Federal Government Pre-Budget Consultation:
Prioritize Ending GBV!
The Canadian government’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance is in the process of its annual pre-budget consultations process.
As part of this process, the federal government is seeking public input on priorities for the government’s forthcoming budget. We encourage you to join BWSS in adding your voice to call for immediate action and funding commitments to end gender-based violence. The deadline to make your submission is August 4, 2023: https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/FINA/news-release/12536255
Gender-based violence is an absolute emergency in every community in this country, and we need immediate, effective, and concrete action to end gender-based violence across these lands. The lives of far too many survivors depends on it.
Declaring gender-based violence to be “one of the most pervasive, deadly, and deeply rooted human rights violations of our time,” federal, provincial, and territorial governments in Canada announced the endorsement of a 10-year National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence in November 2022.
However, meaningful action has been slow.
Gender-based violence has reached epidemic proportions, leading to what is being called “a shadow pandemic.” Femicide is on the rise across Canada. In 2022, 184 women and girls were violently killed due to their gender, representing an alarming 27 percent increase when compared to 2019. Over the past five years, over 850 women and girls were killed in Canada. That means, on average, at least one person every two days is killed due to their gender. For five consecutive years, rates of reported family violence and intimate partner violence have also been increasing.
Gender-based violence is not a uniform experience. Indigenous women, Black women, racialized women, newcomer immigrant/refugee women, low-income women, women with disabilities, rural women, and trans and two spirit people are:
structurally made the most vulnerable to gender-based violence due to interlocking systems of oppression,
endure gender-based violence at a quantitatively higher rate,
and face the greatest barriers to accessing safety and justice after experiencing gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence is especially pronounced for Indigenous women, girls, trans and two spirit people resisting gendered settler-colonial violence. “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” emphatically states that “The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls finds that this amounts to genocide.”
Disturbingly, the federal government has yet to implement action on the Calls for Justice formulated by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. A recent CBC analysis shows that, as of June 2023, only two of the 231 calls have been completed — and more than half haven’t even been started.
More recently, the Mass Casualty Commission, a joint public inquiry between the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia created to examine the April 2020 mass casualty in Nova Scotia, released its final report. This mass casualty was one of the largest mass murders in Canadian history, in which a sole perpetrator, Gabriel Wortman, killed 22 people throughout rural Nova Scotia over a 13-hour period while dressed as an RCMP officer and driving a mocked up RCMP cruiser.
A key theme throughout the final report is gender-based violence, and the Commissioners call for immediate, comprehensive action on gender-based violence in Canada. The Final Report of the Mass Casualty Commission, Turning the Tide Together, states “Redressing our collective failure to keep women safe will mean shifting public funding toward prevention – toward addressing the upstream problems, including the causes of male violence and the social and economic conditions that perpetuate women’s vulnerability to violence.”
The Commissioners make over 130 recommendations to governments, with many recommendations calling on governments to treat gender-based violence as an epidemic and prioritize prevention and paths to safety for survivors.
BWSS’s recommendations to the Federal Government
Our recommendations are focused on the dire and urgent need for immediate and comprehensive action to end gender-based violence.
For example, in 2018, these percentages of women reported having experienced physical or sexual assault since the age of 15:
The government immediately implement the Calls for Justice in Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The government immediately implement the recommendations in Turning the Tide Together: Final Report of the Mass Casualty Commission.
That, as part of the it’s 10-year National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, the government immediately implement the Roadmap for the National Action Plan for Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence: A Report to Guide the Implementation of a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence.
The government declare gender-based, intimate partner, and family violence to be an epidemic that warrants a meaningful and sustained society-wide response, including federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, and Indigenous governments; the health sector and the legal system; the non-governmental and community-based social services sector; businesses, and workplaces; media; schools and educational institutions; communities; and individuals. A whole of society response respects and values the expertise and experience of survivors and the gender-based violence advocacy and support sector.
The government provide epidemic-level funding for gender-based violence prevention and intervention services. These are front-line public services, and ongoing adequate and stable core funding should be provided that is commensurate with the scale of the problem and that prioritizes gender-based violence prevention and pathways to safety.
The government provide funding in the amount of at least $2 billion over 10 years for the development and implementation of the federal commitments, actions, and responsibilities for Canada’s National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. This includes, but is not limited to, ongoing adequate and stable core funding for:
Social infrastructure and public services, including, but not limited to, free, secure, and safe services such as housing, transition homes, transportation, childcare, healthcare, dental care, mental health supports, internet access, healthy school food program in the K-12 school system, employment programs, and livable incomes and pensions.
Full, wrap-around, timely, reliable, culturally-safe, and inclusive anti-violence supports for survivors and their children, as well as non-policing, community-based systems for reporting gender-based violence.
Prevention and education work based on an intersectional feminist analysis of violence, including national public health campaigns to promote consent culture and healthy masculinities.
A fully funded, independent oversight body, including an independent and impartial gender-based violence Commissioner, to act as an accountability mechanism and with effective powers to monitor and report on the implementation of the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence and to make annual reports to Parliament.
Read our full submission to the federal government here and join us in making your own submission call for immediate action and funding commitments by the federal government to end gender-based violence.