We are Ontario’s survivors of sexual assault, front line workers, allies, community members and leaders. We are signing this open letter to urge the Government of Ontario to follow through with the following recommendations from the Dandelion Initiative:
The Government of Ontario stated in its 2015-2016 progress report “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment” that “Over the last year we have carried out other parts of the Action Plan, including improving support for survivors by increasing funding for sexual and domestic violence treatment centres and community-based sexual assault centres. Moving forward, it’s important that we continue to address the need for more support in rural and remote communities in our province. ” We have yet to see concrete developments in these promised areas, especially access to training and survivor centric education for rural and remote locations.
The Government also went ahead to state that they will “ introduce legislation to strengthen provisions related to sexual violence and harassment in the workplace, on campus, in housing, and through the civil claim process.”
Although we are grateful for the investment into sustaining the most crucial front line services for survivors, we have yet to see a concrete plan to address the issues of overcrowding in women’s shelters, investment to sustain free services for survivors, and financial investment to increase the capacity of organizations delivering services and education to survivors and allies.
We urge the Government of Ontario to become a true leader in changing the landscape for survivors of sexual assault and violence and support the Dandelion Initiative in our work to put survivor’s voices at the front of policy creation and implementation.
We have had many opportunities as a grassroots collective led by survivors, policy advocates and service industry staff to develop concrete tools and tactics that would empower survivors, create intervention and prevention practices and create equitable and safe spaces for all people, spaces free of sexual assault and sexual violence.
We request a meeting between The Dandelion Initiative and The Ministry of Status of Women and The Ministry of Labour to discuss our process, impact and continued growth.
We recommend that the Government pass Bill 26 to lift the economic burden currently imposed against survivors of domestic abuse and violence.
We recommend that the Government consult with the Dandelion Initiative on our SAFE BARS PROJECT: a survivor based education and training tool to keep bars safe, accountable and up to date with anti-violence and anti-harassment policies and practices.
We request that the voices of survivors become prioritized in leading the movement for change, using concrete evidence-based best practices and outcomes to facilitate and implement Ontario’s action plan to end sexual violence in our province.
The Dandelion Initiative and our community of survivors and supporters.
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i.Government of Ontario. “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment Progress Report 2015-2016”. March 8, 2016. Updated Aug 29, 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.ontario.ca/page/its-never-okay-action-plan-stop-sexual-viole...
ii.Government of Ontario. Ministry of Women’s Issues. (2016) “Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), Retrieved from: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=3535