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County of Brant Councillor addresses lack of funding for gender-based violence organizations

CouncilCounty of Brant Councillor addresses lack of funding for gender-based violence organizations

Lukas Oakley, Ward Two Councillor for the County of Brant, issued a statement regarding a lack of funding for Intimate Partner and Gender-based Violence organizations. In his statement, Oakley said he will be looking to request emergency funding for four organizations, totalling $266,177, during the County’s upcoming Council meeting on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.

Check out the Brant Beacon later on this week to read all about Council’s decision regarding Oakley’s request for funding.

“At next week’s council meeting, I will be introducing a resolution to provide emergency funding to our local non-profits that provide wrap-around services to those in our community suffering from the Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) epidemic. 

Back in November, Councillor Kyle introduced a resolution that was unanimously passed by council declaring IPV and GBV an epidemic, and further requested local non-profits to come back to us with their funding needs as they are drastically and critically underfunded. These extremely overburdened organizations spent the time and resources providing us with detailed requests for funding to better provide their invaluable services to members of our community; in good faith that we would follow through on our pledge to tackle this epidemic. 

On February 22, 2024, council failed to make good on this pledge by denying any funding from our 2024 budget to the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant, Victim Services of Brant, Willowbridge Community Services, or Nova Vita Brant. Council has since directed that funding and partnership with these organizations be part of our Joint Services Committee discussion with the City of Brantford.

While I am hopeful that through this avenue we can recognize that meaningful and permanent action must be taken, all four of these service providers have an immediate acute underfunding crisis. Thus I am recommending that through reserve and surplus funds, we fund the requests from these four services to carry them through this year as we deliberate permanent funding measures through Joint Services. 

Governments and politicians have a chronic problem of promising, making pledges or commitments to a wide variety of issues, while ultimately failing to take meaningful action.

Our own County of Brant has made a climate emergency pledge and yet our climate action plan has been delayed for years, and now last year we declared the Gender-Based Violence Epidemic. These crises are times for leadership, and to support those who are making our community a safer place to be. Nothing worth doing is ever easy or without cost, and ensuring we have wrap-around services for those who are suffering from intimate partner and gender-based violence is worth doing. 

I hope on Tuesday, our council rights this wrong. If you or someone you know is passionate about this funding passing as well, I encourage you to reach out to me at lukas.oakley@brant.ca and come as a delegate or submit a letter to our council agenda.”

Lukas Oakley 

Councillor Oakley then went on to share his proposed resolution to Commit Immediate Emergency Funding to Intimate Partner & Gender Based Violence Support Services, which states:

“Whereas the County of Brant in November 2023 declared Gender-based violence and Intimate Partner Violence an epidemic and requested related community services to submit funding requests; and 

Whereas through discussion with the community services (Willowbridge, SAC Brant, Victim Services Brant, and Nova Vita) expressed that they were overcapacity to the point where nonbudget, in-kind services offered by the County of Brant could not be utilized; and 

Whereas regular funding for these services have been deferred to Joint City/County Services Committee for further discussion as it relates to the 2025 budget and beyond, however there is an acute funding needed as an interim measure; and 

Whereas while acknowledging an epidemic is the first step, meaningful action must be made in the immediate term by the County of Brant to uphold the resolution passed by council on November 28th, 2023; 

Then it is directed that; 

The County of Brant utilizes reserve and surplus funds to fund the following funding requests:

Sexual Assault Centre of Brant Funding Request #1: 24-hour Crisis and Support Line worker – $35,000 

Sexual Assault Centre of Brant Funding Request #2: Part-Time Counsellor dedicated to adult County of Brant residents who are survivors of Sexual Violence, at risk of Sexual Violence, or who are a parent, partner, or other intimate support for a survivor – $25,025

Sexual Assault Centre of Brant Funding Request #3: Counsellor dedicated to County of Brant youth who are survivors of Sexual Violence, at risk of Sexual Violence, or who are a parent, partner, or other intimate support for a survivor – $30,165 

Victim Services of Brant Funding Request: The continuation of a Victim Services staff to work from the Brant detachment where they can directly connect and provide immediate support to people who have reported gender-based violence and intimate partner violence – $35,573

Willowbridge Community Services Funding Request: 0.6 FTE Therapist for counselling services. 0.2FTE for women, children, and men affected by Gender-based violence and 0.4FTE for individual, couple, and family psychotherapy for the same populations – $60,415

Nova Vita Funding Request: Staff Position for a dedicated Rural Transitional Outreach Support Worker to address the intimate partner violence and gender-based violence epidemic in the County of Brant – $80,000 

For a total one-time allotment of $266,177 to be funded from reserve and surplus funds”

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