FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $1.425 million over the next two years to begin the implementation of a comprehensive sexual violence framework and growing to $1.6 million annually in 2020-21.

“Sexual violence is an issue your government takes seriously because of the harm and trauma it causes individuals, families and communities,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “This framework represents a positive step forward in working toward the elimination of sexual violence in New Brunswick.”

Rogers spoke on behalf of Premier Brian Gallant, who is also the minister responsible for women’s equality.

Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence in New Brunswick: A Framework for Action addresses the actions of establishing a sexual violence strategy and examining system responses outlined in the New Brunswick Family Plan.

It focuses on four key areas: prevention and awareness; professional education and training; intervention; and policy, research and education. Its intent is to build collaboration with government and community to address the issue of sexual violence through sharing of information and best practices with a goal of enhancing the level of service provisions for victims.

The Women’s Equality Branch and the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre consulted with key community partners who provided expertise, feedback and support to inform the development of this framework. Government departments and the community were involved in the development of the framework.

“Sexual violence is a complex issue that impacts all our communities. The Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre is committed to addressing sexual violence through our professional development, awareness, and prevention programs, and direct support services,” said executive director Lorraine Whalley. “This framework provides a strong foundation to improve services for survivors, as well as to build a province free of sexual violence.”

A committee co-chaired by the Women’s Equality Branch and the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre will be established to oversee implementation of the framework. The committee will include membership from community agencies delivering sexual assault prevention services, government departments, law enforcement, academia, New Brunswick Multicultural Council, agencies serving young people, post-secondary institutions, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program and the New Brunswick Women’s Council.

“We all have a role to play in creating safe and respectful communities,” said Rogers. “We need to challenge behaviours that promote sexual violence. Your government will continue to work with our partners to create environments that are safe and respectful, and that meet the needs of victims of sexual violence.”

Advancing women’s equality is an area of focus identified in the New Brunswick Family Plan framework. The report identifies five key steps to achieving that goal: recruiting more women to fill positions of influence, enhancing gender equality, enhancing pay equity, increasing access to services and supports for victims of intimate partner violence and removing barriers to access and opportunities.