SASKATOON, November 22, 2013 – Today, the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), on behalf of the Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Central Nova, announced funding of $330,637 for enhancements to mental health services provided through the Saskatoon Centre for Children’s Justice, a Child Advocacy Centre (CAC). The enhanced services will be delivered by a partner of the CAC, the Saskatoon Health Region’s Mental Health and Addiction Services.
“Abuse can have an overwhelming impact on its victims, and child victims of abuse need access to specialized programs that respond to their unique needs,” said Minister Yelich. “This funding will ensure that young victims and their families can access mental health services in a timely manner to minimize further trauma and support healthy coping strategies.”
“Our Government has worked hard to make our streets and communities safer, to enhance the rights of victims of crime and to protect the most vulnerable—especially our children,” said Minister MacKay. “I have personally seen how effective Child Advocacy Centres are in bringing people together under the common goal of improving the system’s response to young victims of abuse.”
With this funding, a trained social worker or psychologist will now be available full time through the Saskatoon Centre for Children’s Justice to provide timely and effective support to child victims and their families. The funding will also be used to hire a part-time case manager who will provide outreach, and coordinate services and a support team for young victims and their families. This new project builds on a successful project that offered mental health services on a part-time basis between 2011 and 2013.
CACs provide a safe, child- and youth-friendly environment where a collaborative, coordinated team of professionals work together in a child-focused manner to help a child or youth victim and their families navigate the criminal justice system. The work of a CAC multidisciplinary team can greatly reduce the emotional and mental trauma to children and youth.
Since 2006, the Government of Canada has allocated more than $120 million to give victims a more effective voice through initiatives delivered by the Department of Justice Canada. This funding includes $10.25 million for the establishment or enhancement of Child Advocacy Centres. So far, CAC projects have been funded in more than 20 cities or municipalities across Canada.
The Government of Canada has also put forward a number of measures to better protect children, including:
- Putting in place the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which increased penalties for sexual offences against children and created two new offences aimed at conduct that could facilitate or enable the commission of a sexual offence against a child;
- Strengthening the sex offender registry to be a more effective tool for preventing and investigating crimes;
- Increasing the age of protection from 14 to 16 years old;
- Eliminating house arrest for criminals who commit serious and violent offences, including for all child sexual offences;
- Putting in place legislation to make the reporting of child pornography by Internet Service Providers mandatory; and
- Strengthening the sentencing and monitoring of dangerous offenders.
This funding announcement is in keeping with the Government's Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, one of four priorities identified by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This plan focuses on holding violent criminals accountable, enhancing the rights of victims, and increasing the efficiency of our justice system. It also supports the Speech from the Throne 2013 commitment to introduce measures that will increase support for victims of crime.
Backgrounder: Child Advocacy Centres