After years of delays, the Quebec government has unveiled its $200-million, five-year strategy to prevent sexual violence.
The strategy includes $156 million to continue funding existing measures and $44 million for new programs, including:
- $6.4 million for a special police unit targeting sexual exploitation and pimping.
- $1.4 million to deploy people to selected Quebec cities who would inform and help people who want to leave prostitution and help them with social reintegration.
- $3.9 million for awareness campaigns for prevention of sexual violence aimed at public at large as well as the LGBT community.
- $500,000 to collaborate with different initiatives and campaigns and to create safe spaces to prevent sexual violence at universities and colleges.
Status of Women Minister Lise Thériault, Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux, Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée, Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois and Higher Education Minister Hélène David were all on hand for the announcement in Montreal.
David says she wants Quebec universities to have "most progressive attitude in North America" when it comes to preventing sexual violence.
Helping victims of sexual violence
To help victims of sexual violence who report crimes, the government is introducing two new measures including having prosecutors routinely meet with victims to discuss their cases and acquiring more video conference equipment so that victims don't have to face alleged attackers.
"Too often I hear from victims: it's hard, our justice system. It's difficult to speak out," said Vallée.
"This is hard to hear as a justice minister, because we have a good system."
There will also be a component aimed specifically at Indigenous women, though that aspect of the plan will be finalized at a later date.
The strategy is being unveiled on the heels of a number of incidents involving sexual violence in the province, including allegations MNA Gerry Sklavounos sexually assaulted a Quebec City woman two years ago and an increase in security at Laval University after several women reported break-ins and sexual assaults at their residence.
Two groups fighting sexual assault and exploitation in Quebec said recently they've been waiting in vain for a government strategy on sexual violence for three years.
The government had promised to unveil its strategy by last spring, but missed that deadline.