Government of Canada Announces Funding to Promote Healthy Relationships for Vulnerable Youth

News release

Project will support research activities aimed at preventing teen dating violence

February 13, 2019 - London, Ontario - Public Health Agency of Canada

Gender-based violence—violence against people based on their gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender—is a preventable and significant barrier to gender equality, yet it persists in Canada. This includes teen and youth dating violence, which can affect anyone but is a higher risk for under-served and vulnerable populations such as Indigenous youth, youth who identify as LGBT2Q+, and young people who are new to Canada.

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament, highlighted the Government’s continued commitment to ending gender-based violence by announcing nearly $5 million in funding over five years to Western University to support its Healthy Relationships Approach to Violence Prevention and Mental Health Promotion with Vulnerable Youth project. The MP made this announcement while meeting with the project lead and partners at Western University.

This new project will evaluate adaptations of the Healthy Relationships Plus Program aimed at helping vulnerable and at-risk youth in three regions: Southwestern Ontario, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Developed by researchers at Western University, it is an evidence-based program that aims to prevent teen and youth dating violence. Delivered in small group settings, the program fosters positive mental health and addresses topics like unhealthy substance use, peer pressure, media literacy, mental health and wellbeing, and suicide prevention.

This investment is part of Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence


“Violence can affect anyone, but some people, such as Indigenous youth or young people who identify as LGBT2Q+ or have recently immigrated to Canada, may face greater challenges and barriers to healthy relationships. I am proud to announce the Government of Canada’s support for this project, which is being led by Western University. Ensuring that programs and resources meet the needs of our youth is crucial to ending dating violence.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“Young Canadians are making life-changing decisions in their teenage years, especially about dating and relationships. Those decisions can have lasting consequences. The numbers tell a horrifying story: nearly half of all sexual assaults are committed against young women aged 15 to 24. In developing Canada’s first strategy to end gender-based violence, experts, survivors and their families asked our Government to address the gaps in teen and youth dating violence, and to promote healthy relationships. Our Government listened. That’s why we are funding partnerships like this one between Western University and the Public Health Agency of Canada to help ensure that our kids live free from gender-based violence and abuse.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef
Minister for Women and Gender Equality

“There has been an important shift to evidence-based violence prevention and we have learned a lot in the past two decades about school-based approaches to preventing teen dating violence. This research has focused on general high school populations. Unfortunately, we still know very little about preventing violence with vulnerable groups in real world settings. We need to enhance current approaches to address additional risk and protective factors for these groups.”

Claire Crooks 
Director, Centre for School Mental Health

Quick Facts

  • The Public Health Agency of Canada is investing more than $40 million over five years under its Preventing Gender-Based Violence-The Health Perspective program. The program supports Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence.
  • Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations. It is estimated that, globally, one in three women experiences intimate partner violence in her lifetime.
  • In Canada, nearly 50% of people aged 15 and older who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual report having experienced childhood physical or sexual abuse, compared to 30% of heterosexual people.
  • In June 2019, Canada will host the Women Deliver conference, the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women.

Associated Links


Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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