Feds give New Brunswick cash to support hotlines for gender-based violence

By Terry Davidson

Law360 Canada (August 25, 2023, 4:00 PM EDT) -- Ottawa is giving New Brunswick hundreds of thousands in funding to support crisis hotlines for victims of gender-based violence in the province, which has seen a dramatic increase in intimate partner violence over the years.

On Aug. 25, it was announced that $700,000 is being given to New Brunswick to help shore up the hotlines. Those in attendance included federal Minister for Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien and MLA Sherry Wilson, the province’s minister responsible for women’s equality.

“This funding will help New Brunswick crisis hotlines offer more robust services, resources, and supports to serve the urgent needs of those experiencing gender-based violence and their families, no matter where they live in the province,” states a news release.

Minister for Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien

Minister for Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien

It notes that Canadians’ demand for such services increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that this demand continues.

A spokesperson with Canada’s Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth confirmed a “bilateral agreement” between the federal government and New Brunswick has been signed.

The money will be given over the course of three fiscal years. The first $350,000 was given this past April, while $210,000 and $140,000 will be given for 2024 and 2025, respectively. The program will end in March 2026. (It was not made clear by press time as to why an announcement was made on Aug. 25, given the first round of funding began in April.)

The release notes that the announcement supports the 2022 launch of the National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence.

“Investing in existing gender-based violence crisis lines is one example of the steps we are taking to create safer communities,” said MLA Wilson in a statement. “We acknowledge New Brunswick has seen an increase of intimate partner violence against women and girls. The largest increase among the provinces. We believe that access to crisis line supports is an important connection to help these women and girls in need.”

Indeed, Statistics Canada has reported that, of all the provinces, New Brunswick had the greatest increase of intimate partner violence (IPV) between 2009 and 2021, noting a 39 per cent rise. (Quebec sat in second, at 28 per cent.)

The StatCan report defined IPV as violence committed by current and former spouses, common-law partners, dating partners and “other” intimate partners.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for Law360 Canada, please contact Terry Davidson at t.davidson@lexisnexis.ca or 905-415-5899.