News Article: B.C. Domestic Violence Cuts 'Dangerous': Groups

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CBC News,
September 23, 2009

Cuts to B.C. domestic violence programs could mean more suffering for women and children living in dangerous home situations, advocacy groups said Wednesday.

Local organizations held an emergency meeting in Vancouver to try to deal with provincial funding cuts of $440,000, which they say could result in more domestic violence and even deaths.

"These cuts will have devastating impacts throughout the province," said Irene Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer, executive director of Women Against Violence Against Women. "And if you put them all together, you can see up to 17,000 fewer hours of support for women and children."

"Here on the front line, we know that women are dealing with violence every day," said Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women's Support Services. "For every woman murdered, there are thousands more living at home in fear."

"We're talking about life and death here for women," Lee Lakeman of Vancouver Rape Relief said.

Word of the cuts comes two days after a Burnaby, B.C., mother was found dead in her home, an apparent victim of domestic violence, according to police.

A 41-year-old man police believe is her estranged partner has been charged with second-degree murder.

Solicitor general questioned

In Victoria, B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed said the government would spend more than $40 million on victims' assistance this year.

The opposition said the figure is still less than originally promised.

"How can he stand in this House and justify a $440,000 elimination in domestic violence programs?" New Democrat Mike Farnworth asked in the legislature.

"We are working with the service providers, and we have found efficiencies in order for us to keep frontline programs here in British Columbia," Heed replied.

"I'm appalled that women and children are looked upon as efficiencies," Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer said when she learned of Heed's statement.

The advocacy groups at the Vancouver meeting said there was no fat to be trimmed from their budgets, especially in tough economic times, when domestic violence can increase. They called on the government to restore full funding.

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