In January 2021, the Canadian government announced a commitment to develop a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. Leading up to the development of the Plan, WomanACT undertook consultations with community organizations and survivors on what they wanted to see in the Plan. The consultation process was supported by Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) and YWCA Canada.
WomanACT held 4 consultations in February 2021 and engaged over 100 survivors and 50 community organizations. The key themes we heard across the consultations included the need to improve the pathways to justice for survivors, the lack of housing and income supports for survivors and the need for greater support and investment into the prevention of gender-based violence. The need to rethink our justice system, including creating alternative community-led responses to violence and developing new and restorative justice models was a key point of discussion.
Survivors and community organizations were asked their views on the priorities and opportunities for the Plan. Participants shared a range of ideas and solutions including:
- Mandatory training on gender-based violence and trauma-informed approaches for lawyers, judges and police;
- Community-based hubs where there are multiple services in one location for survivors;
- Affordable housing options for survivors and programs that support survivors into home ownership;
- Multi-sectoral tables to identify and respond to cases in the community of high-risk domestic violence;
- Addressing laws and and polices that are driving racial bias and discrimination in the justice system;
- Improve education and prevention strategies in the education system.
Participants across the consultations shared the need for the Plan to address systemic issues and be paired with substantial investments into prevention and response strategies. The need for accountability and evaluation measures was also a common theme across the consultations. Participants asked that survivors are given decision-making and leadership roles in the development and implementation plan.