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March 8, 2019

Government must take steps to ensure violence against women and girls ends, says OFL Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates in an op-ed at

Every two-and-a-half days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.

Statistics show that, overwhelmingly, it is men who are responsible for that killing. Ninety-five per cent of spousal homicide victims in Ontario are female.

Let that sink in. What I’m talking about here is femicide in homes across Ontario.

With such a high death toll among women due to domestic violence, you’d think the government of Ontario would be doing something to end this scourge.

The reasonable, responsible thing to do would be to increase funding for programs that help women escape domestic and sexual violence, programs that make it possible for women to take the bold step of leaving an abuser and keep her safe in the dangerous days when he is at his most violent.

But, instead of enhancing programs to stop violence against women, the Doug Ford PC government is doing the opposite. It is eliminating and underfunding programs that save the lives of women and girls.

In October, it disbanded the expert panel to end violence against women and withheld $14.8 million in promised funding from existing and new rape crisis centres. Those centres have still not received their funding.

These government decisions support the continued abuse and murder of women and girls, leaving them without the counselling and resources they desperately need.

Our government can help stop these killings; instead, it is choosing to ignore the problem.

In recent weeks, Ontarians were horrified by the murder of Riya Rajkumar, who was killed on her birthday by her father before he killed himself.

Our government needs to wake up and take steps to ensure that violence against women and girls ends.

A third of women experience abuse before they are 18. I am one of them. When my father was violent, my mother would gather me and my siblings together and take us to my grandmother’s house. That’s where we’d hide. We would seek shelter in the basement, making sure the lights were off so the house would look unoccupied until it was safe for us to emerge.

My heartfelt wish is that no woman or girl experiences that kind of violence in Ontario, but, if they do, that they have the resources available to them in a timely fashion, not on a 14-month waiting list.

I am committed to working until safety and equality are realities for all women. I hope you’ll join me in the struggle.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the power of women to make change and overcome obstacles.

The labour movement has been at the forefront of work for equality and safety for all, and calls on the government to stop the femicide that plagues our province.

Every missing dollar of funding for equity initiatives is a barrier to safety and equality for women and girls. Every cancelled program increases the likelihood of violence.

We are demanding that our government reinstate and improve programs that work to end violence and support women.

This International Women’s Day, I encourage you to recommit to ensure that the women in your life, along with all Ontarians, are safe. Demand programs that seek an end to violence against women and support women’s equality.

It’s not too much to ask that our government do the same.

COPE 343


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