TORONTO – NDP Women's Social and Economic Opportunity Critic Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s) released the following statement on the troubling new report from Statistics Canada that shows the rate of police-reported sexual assault in 2021 was the highest it’s been since 1996.
“There is no excuse for sexual assault and gender-based violence to continue, let alone trend upwards over the past 25 years. This report demonstrates the continued failure to protect women, girls, non-binary, trans, and gender-diverse folks, and all victim-survivors through education, access to justice, mental health resources, and the everyday and systemic dismantling of toxic masculinity in our society. This increase in sexual assault and gender-based violence is even more troubling when you consider that this report only captures a fraction of the violence, since the majority of incidents are unreported.
Preventing gender-based violence requires a comprehensive strategy and much more investment at the community level. Community-based supports, like sexual assault and rape crisis centres and the frontline workers who provide these supports, are sadly more and more out of reach for victim-survivors due to Ford’s deep cuts. Today’s report gives us all pause to consider the Doug Ford Conservative government’s failures to address sexual assault and gender-based violence. Under Ford, sexual assault and rape crisis centres have lived with threats to cut their funding, unstable and insufficient funding, and the disbanding of the province’s Roundtable on Violence Against Women.
New Democrats have called for a 30 per cent increase in funding to Ontario’s sexual assault and rape crisis centres – and to make that funding stable. We have also fought to restore full funding to legal aid, which is crucial to victim-survivors. I’ve also introduced legislation demanding more affordable housing, mental health supports, and a call nearly two years ago for an Intersectional Gender-Based Analysis to be applied to all legislation before being passed into law. Whether it be addressing sexual assault, gender-based violence, or tackling the housing crisis, healthcare, and the gaping holes in our 'justice' system, it is crucial that legislation has an equal and positive impact on Ontarians. We need Ford to step up and support victim-survivors of sexual assault and the ongoing public health crisis that is gender-based violence."