What resources will your party promise publicly to commit for implemention all of the recommendations of the Gillian Hadley inquest, including recommendations to increase core funding for women's first stage emergency shelters in Ontario to levels that will meet the needs of every woman and child who needs refuge from intimate violence?
Submitted by Eileen Morrow, Coordinator Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)
The Progressive Conservative answer:
We are taking a comprehensive approach to addressing domestic violence through protection, prosecution, support for victims, prevention and education. Our government has increased spending in this important area by 75 per cent since 1995.
Specifically to the Hadley inquest we have taken action on many of the recommendations including $26 million over four years to improve the safety and security of abused women and their children by adding 200 shelter beds; $9 million annually for counseling, telephone crisis services and other supports.
We have also introduced the Domestic Violence Protection Act that will improve enforcement provisions, expand the range of court order provisions, provide a definition of domestic violence, and broaden the range of relationships covered by the Act.
The Liberal answer:
Arlene May's and Gillian Hadley's deaths were horrible tragedies that should never have occurred.
Some 40 women are killed by their partners in Ontario every year, and the incidence of domestic violence continues to rise. The Harris-Eves government has done little about this. In 2000, at one shelter alone, more than 1,000 women and children were turned away.
This is unacceptable. Every woman and child in Ontario who needs refuge from domestic violence should have a place to go. It's not just first-stage emergency shelter that is lacking either; we also need more second-stage housing where women and their children can be safe from their abusers, as well as receive support and counseling. Our Ontario Liberal Plan includes our commitment to increasing support for second-stage housing.
We also will work to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to make it more difficult for those arrested for domestic violence to make bail. We will ensure that police conduct risk assessments of accused abusers on their first charge so that potentially more serious problems can be detected. We will direct all Crown attorneys to review risk assessments before bail hearings and demand that monitoring devices be used in appropriate cases. We strongly oppose further release of accused abusers who violate bail conditions.
We will pass strong victims' rights legislation that ensures victims have access to information and services. We will also make it easier for victims of crime to attend court by making it their legal right to get time off work to do so.
Victims of domestic violence often have longer term housing needs as well. Unlike the Harris-Eves government, which did not build a single unit of affordable housing in eight years, we believe the provincial government has a responsibility to help people who cannot find a place to live at a price they can afford. We will match federal support to create nearly 20,000 new housing units for needy Ontario families.
The NDP answer:
Combat violence against women with a "freedom from fear" strategy Ontario faces a dramatic increase in violence against women that threatens the lives of women and children across our province.
Women's safety depends on their ability to access the means to protect and support their children and themselves. Without fair and equal access to housing, work, and income supports, women are made victims. Without equitable legal, anti-violence and neighbourhood supports and services, women are left increasingly defenseless against abuse.
The NDP will combat violence against women with a comprehensive "Freedom from fear" strategy that provides women the social, economic and legal tools to protect themselves and their families from abuse:
· Fund community-based services for women and children through neighbourhood supports and through emergency services such as crisis lines, shelter funding $50 million.
· Second stage housing allocation $3.6 million. · Fund legal reforms and services that provide women equal protection and representation, including legal aid to cover family law, and the implementation of Arlene May and Hadley inquest recommendations $50 million.
· Reinstate 5 per cent cut to sexual assault and rape crisis centres. Ensure women have economic independence and dignity Women and their children have been disproportionately hurt by Conservative social and economic policies. Howard Hampton and the NDP will ensure women have fair access to housing, work and income supports to support themselves and their families.
· Build more affordable housing geared-to-income · Restore the right to a fair wage by funding pay equity for 100,000 of the lowest paid women in Ontario working in places such as child care centres, home care facilities and shelters
· Raise the minimum wage immediately to $8 an hour · Review social assistance to increase shelter allowances to 85 per cent of average rent, increase rates to cover the cost of living and end the arbitrary lifetime ban
· Stop the National Child Tax Benefit clawback
· Crack down on workplace harassment Ensure women have access to quality, affordable child care Howard Hampton and the NDP will make quality child care affordable and accessible to women in Ontario.
· Make child care affordable for all Ontario families by reducing fees to $10 a day for children ages 18 months to 5 years for children now enrolled in non-profit, regulated care
· Support low-income families by maintaining current subsidies
· Make child care accessible by creating 20,000 new $10 a day spaces