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____ Summer Week 9: August 27 - September 3, 2015 ____

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Exchange Morning Post daily distribution resumes September 8, 2015

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Community Health

Ontario Increasing Support for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

New Funding to Improve Counselling Services at St. Mary’s General Hospital

Queens park - Ontario is providing $34,200 in new funding for the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre (SADVTC) at St. Mary’s General Hospital. “Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence need to know that there are counselling services available to them to help them cope with these distressing crimes. Today’s announcement is part of our government’s efforts to help survivors, and put an end to sexual violence and harassment," said Daiene Vernile, MPP for Kitchener Centre.

The additional funding will enhance specialized counselling services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. This financial support is part of the government’s $1.14 million a year investment in SADVTCs across the province. It includes $940,000 for enhancing existing specialized counselling services and $200,000 for a province-wide community outreach program.

Under this initiative, the government will also monitor treatment centres’ results to ensure that the new investments are making a difference in the lives of those affected by sexual violence.

Today’s announcement is an important step towards achieving the commitments outlined in It's Never Okay, the government’s action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment — including strengthening the supports provided by hospital-based treatment centres and maintaining round-the-clock access to excellent, appropriate and timely care. It is also part of the government’s commitment to providing faster access to the right health care through its Patients First action plan.

Supporting victims of sexual violence and creating a safer, more inclusive and more equitable province is part of the government’s four-part plan to build Ontario up. The plan includes investing in people’s talent and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history, creating a dynamic and innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.

· The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care opened the first hospital-based sexual assault centre at Women’s College Hospital in 1984.

In 1993, the ministry created the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centres, which now includes 35 centres across the province.

These treatment centres operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and rely on on-call staff to meet the needs of patients arriving at any time.

In Canada, one in three women will experience some form of sexual assault in her lifetime.

The government announced the creation of It's Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment on March 6, 2015. This is a ground-breaking plan to help change attitudes, provide more supports for survivors, and make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment.

The government has committed $41 million over three years to support the plan’s implementation.

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