National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence

About

Reference number:
WAGE-2021-QP-00003
Date received:
2021-05-07
Organization:
Department for Women and Gender Equality
Name of Minister:
Monsef, Maryam (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister for Women and Gender Equality

Issue/Question:

How is the Government of Canada working to end gender-based violence?

Suggested Response:

• Everyone has the right to live free from violence. Ending gender-based violence requires effort from everyone in Canada.
• It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, launched in 2017, committed over $200 million in new investments and over $40 million per year ongoing to advance efforts to prevent gender-based violence, support survivors and their families, and promote responsive legal and justice systems.
• The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence and amplified its urgency.
• The Department for Women and Gender Equality is currently engaging federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners, and civil society to advance the development of the National Action Plan. In January 2021, Ministers responsible for the Status of Women endorsed the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministerial Joint Declaration for a Canada Free of Gender-Based Violence.
• Budget 2021 includes over $3 billion over five years and $194.4 million ongoing to advance initiatives that prevent and address gender-based violence, including:
o $601.3 million over five years to advance a new National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence;
o $2.2 billion over five years and $160.9 million ongoing to help build a safer, stronger and more inclusive response to the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; and
o $236.2 million over five years and $33.5 million ongoing to Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada, including $158.5 million over 5 years and $29.9 million per year ongoing from existing resources, to expand work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors.

Background:

Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive, deadly and deeply-rooted human rights violations of our time, and the Government of Canada is committed to preventing and addressing it. Many people in Canada face violence every day because of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or perceived gender. Gender-based violence is a significant barrier to achieving gender equality and it is preventable.

It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence
In 2017, the Department for Women and Gender Equality (formerly Status of Women Canada) launched It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence (federal GBV Strategy), which brings together the GBV-related efforts of all federal departments and agencies to form a whole-of-government approach to prevent and address GBV in Canada.

Early accomplishments under the Strategy include:
• Amending the Canada Labour Code to strengthen existing frameworks for the prevention of harassment and sexual violence in the workplace (ESDC);
• Strengthening sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code (Justice Canada);
• Creating the Sexual Assault Review Team, which has completed a review of over 30,000 “unfounded” sexual assault case files (RCMP);
• Launching the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking in partnership with many departments, including WAGE and Public Safety, and through which WAGE received funding to develop the Continuum of Care – Prevention and Interventions for Vulnerable Populations initiative;
• Piloting a cultural awareness and trauma-informed GBV training for all RCMP employees (RCMP);
• Launching the GBV Program, which has provided funding to 60 projects to develop and test promising practices to support victims and survivors of GBV and their families (WAGE);
• Launching the GBV Knowledge Centre’s online platform in December 2018 (WAGE); and
• Developing 3 national surveys to establish baselines on the prevalence of different forms of GBV, provide a deeper understanding of GBV in Canada, and measure progress over time (WAGE and StatsCan).

National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence
In December 2019, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality was mandated to build on the foundation laid by the GBV Strategy and move forward to develop a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence (GBV National Action Plan), with a focus on ensuring that anyone facing gender-based violence has reliable and timely access to protection and services, no matter where they live.

The Government of Canada, through WAGE, is working closely with provinces and territories on the development of the National Action Plan, notably through the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Forum of Ministers responsible for the Status of Women. At the 38th Annual Meeting held in January 2021, Ministers endorsed the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministerial Joint Declaration for a Canada Free of Gender-Based Violence.

The GBV National Action Plan will make sustainable progress towards the Government’s priority of eliminating GBV and advancing gender equality and will directly support Canada’s COVID-19 recovery by investing in women as the country builds back better.

To advance these efforts, Budget 2021 includes:
o $601.3 million over five years to advance a new National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, including:
- $200 million over two years to support gender-based violence organizations (WAGE);
- $105 million over five years to enhance the GBV Program (WAGE);
• This will include funding to engage men and boys, stop human trafficking, support at-risk populations and survivors, and provide support for testing and implementing best-practices.
- $14 million over five years for a dedicated secretariat to coordinate ongoing work towards the development and implementation of the GBV National Action Plan (WAGE);
- $11 million over five years for GBV research and knowledge mobilization (WAGE);
- $55 million over five years to bolster the capacity of Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations to provide gender-based violence prevention programming aimed at addressing the root causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+people (WAGE);
- $30 million over five years so crisis hotlines can serve the urgent needs of more Canadians to prevent the escalation of GBV (WAGE);
- $50 million over five years to design and deliver interventions that promote safe relationships and prevent family violence, including intimate partner violence, child maltreatment, and elder abuse (PHAC);
- $85.3 million over five years to support a national program for independent legal advice and independent legal representation for victims of sexual assault, as well as to support pilot projects for victims of intimate partner violence (JUS);
- $28.4 million over five years to support supervision services for parenting time in cases of separation and divorce (JUS);
- $20.7 million over five years, to enhance the ability to pursue online child sexual exploitation investigations, identify victims and remove them from abusive situations, and bring offenders to justice—including those who offend abroad (RCMP); and
- $2 million over five years, to increase access to information and support for new Canadians facing family and gender-based violence, including enhancing the availability of anti-violence resources (IRCC).

o Other investments related to the GBV National Action Plan include:
- $2.2 billion, over five years, and $160.9 million ongoing to respond to the Tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls;
- $8.2 million over three years for the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence to increase support and research for frontline initiatives and programming that prevent and counter radicalization to violence, including violent misogyny (PS);
- $250 million in funding under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, which will be allocated to support the construction, repair, and operating costs of an estimated 560 units of transitional housing and shelter spaces for women and children fleeing violence (CMHC); and
- Budget 2021 proposes to provide $236.2 million over five years, and $33.5 million per year ongoing, including $158.5 million over 5 years and $29.9 million per year ongoing funded from existing resources to expand work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors (DND/VAC).

COVID-19 Impacts on Gender-Based Violence
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, girls, LGBTQ2+ and gender diverse people, as well as members of at-risk communities. While everyone in Canada has been urged to stay at home, home is not safe for all, particularly women or their children who experience family or intimate partner violence.

Preliminary data from a sample of 14 police services indicate that calls related to domestic disturbances increased 8% from March to October 2020 when compared to the previous year. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection reported that the organization saw an 81% spike over April, May and June 2020 in reports of online sexual exploitation of Canadian children to their national hotline (Cybertip.ca). This rise in some forms of GBV since the beginning of the public health crisis has come to be recognized nationally and internationally as the “GBV shadow pandemic.”

Many organizations providing GBV-related supports and services have reported a significant increase in demand since the beginning of the pandemic. Others have seen a decrease in demand for their services, raising concerns that those experiencing GBV cannot or are not reaching out for help.

The Government of Canada provided $100 million in emergency funding to over 1,000 organizations across the country providing critical supports and services to those experiencing GBV to ensure the continuity of services during the pandemic. Since April 2020, nearly 800,000 women and children experiencing violence had a place to turn to because of this funding.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the landscape, including exacerbating existing shortfalls in multiple systems and sectors, thereby increasing the need for and urgency of a national approach to prevent and address GBV.

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