Lethbridge centre says funding needed for sexual assault support services

Recent stats say 43 per cent of people in Alberta have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. That’s a staggering 1.8 million people. These numbers come from the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.

The group is saying there needs to be more funding from the province for sexual assault support services and trauma counseling. Kristine Cassie, the CEO of the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre in Lethbridge says their numbers are rising for those needing assistance.

“What we’ve seen certainly in the last year is a 37 per cent jump in those that are seeking out services from our sexual assault centre. We don’t anticipate that this is going to go down. In fact, we see that this is just going to continue to go up. We’ve seen this since the #MeToo movement and the #IBelieveYou campaign. And certainly with all the stories that come out in the media regarding things like Hockey Canada, people are much more emboldened to come forward and to seek those services. We know there’s far more for us to deal with. This is just the tip of the iceberg. And so for us to have healthy Albertans, it really is important for us to invest and not wait for it to be even more of a crisis.”

A release from the AASAS said on behalf of sexual assault services across Alberta, they talked to the Alberta Government about the issue seven months ago, and they say they have been working with government staff, Ministers, and fighting for survivors since then.

They mentioned the response from government staff for one-time funding for counseling, but nothing for prevention or access, is not the answer they were looking for.

According to Stats Canada, in 2021, police-reported sexual assault increased by 21 per cent in Alberta.

Bridge City News reached out to the office of Jeremy Nixon, the minister of seniors, community and social services for comment on the story, but we have yet to hear back.

UPDATE: Hunter Baril, Press Secretary in Alberta Seniors, Community and Social Service provided a statement on the story.

“Sexual Assault Centres provide critical supports to victims impacted emotionally, mentally, and physically from sexual violence. Alberta’s government is committed to combatting sexual violence and ensuring proper care is available to victims. Following Budget 2020, we increased budgets for Sexual Assault Centres over three years, bringing our ministry’s Sexual Violence Prevention funding to $13.8 million in 2022/23.Overall government provides over $17 million across four ministries. The proposal from AASAS will be reviewed over the coming months.”

Micah Quinn

After graduating from Mount Royal University in Calgary with a Broadcasting Diploma, Micah made the trek down to Lethbridge to work for Bridge City News. He has previously worked at City TV Calgary on the Breakfast Television morning show. He looks forward to connecting with this community, and reaching a new audience. Micah has a passion for interviewing and finding out why people think the way they do. You’ll often find him pursuing local feature stories and hard news.

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