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Commentary: Sex assault awareness is a key to success

According to recent government statistics, 1.8 million Albertans have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes

While many of the Smith government’s recent plans and proposals have been met with pushback and in some cases outright criticism, its new efforts to support the victims of sexual assault in the province are welcome.

May is Sexual Violence Awareness Month in Alberta, a time set aside to inform the public and to prompt action on the part of stakeholders, including in rural communities.

The government is now providing $17 million to support sexual assault centres in the province, including an additional $3 million in 2024-25.

According to recent government statistics, 1.8 million Albertans have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes, causing long-lasting negative impacts on the health and well-being of victims.

“Too many Albertans are faced with the traumatic impacts of sexual violence,” said Searle Turton, minister of Children and Family Services. “That’s why it is so important to strengthen assault centres and their ability to support and empower survivors, no matter where they are on their healing journey.”

The centres provide access to safety and educational supports, counselling, crime intervention, court support and police contacts.

As well as the support for centres, the province is also providing more than half a million dollars in Rural Sexual Assault Support grants, which help victims in smaller communities.

Sexual Violence Awareness Month efforts underway in the province also include a commitment from the government to promote a culture of consent through work with community groups, service providers and other stakeholders.

The Smith government’s recently announced plans to give itself new authority to fire elected municipal officials and order the scrapping of municipal bylaws has raised widespread concern with many Albertans as well as with various stakeholder groups.

The UPC’s plan to prohibit municipalities from entering into agreements with the federal government without first getting provincial government approval has also been criticized.

Nevertheless, the Smith government should be applauded for its ongoing efforts to fight sexual violence in the province and to support victims in communities large and small.

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.

Dan Singleton

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