The Liberal government has unveiled its strategy on gender-based violence, proposing to spend the bulk of the cash allotted to create a centre of excellence within Status of Women Canada to both study and try to solve the problem.
Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef said the money will help collect and share national data on gender-based violence that other levels of government and those on the front lines are unable to gather on their own.
“It is incredibly important that our actions, how we spend money, the way that we deliver programming, is based on knowledge and evidence and that we share that knowledge across the country,” Monsef said in an interview Monday.
The centre will receive $77.5 million of the $101 million the Liberal government committed over five years to the gender-based violence strategy in the March budget, plus $16 million a year going forward, for research, data collection and programming.
The rest of the money will be spread across several departments as part of a federal plan aimed at prevention, providing better support for survivors and helping the justice system become more responsive to the needs of those who experience sexual assault or other forms of violence.
The Liberal government said the strategy is also supported by other measures announced in the 2017 budget, such as a proposal to allow federally regulated employees suffering from domestic violence some unpaid leave to get the help they need.
Monsef said the type of data that Status of Women will collect has not been gathered since 1993 and so the strategy will include creating a picture of gender-based violence across the country that better reflects the times.
“Cyberviolence is a new frontier where our youth, our seniors, people across the country are affected by it,” Monsef said.
She said there also needs to be more research into how gender-based violence affects diverse populations differently.
“A young woman living in a rural community with a disability is going to be more vulnerable and impacted greatly compared to someone who does not have the intersectionality of those identities,” Monsef said.
The strategy was designed to be federal, not national, meaning those who have been calling for a comprehensive plan involving the provinces and territories will have to wait.
Monsef said there is a lot of work the federal government needs to do within its own jurisdiction.
“I think it’s critical that we begin to co-ordinate our efforts across departments within the federal government and address the silos that exist,” she said.
She said she nonetheless expects to be able to co-ordinate efforts nationwide.
“We will continue to work with them, because we need to,” she said. “There are many provinces and territories who, in the absence of federal leadership, have done great work and we need to ensure that we are not duplicating efforts but instead working in collaboration with them.”