More than $2.7 million in federal funding is headed to an Oshawa resource centre for women and children who have suffered from intimate partner violence.
The funding for Luke’s Place, a support and resource centre for women and children, will provide specialized services, resources and information – as well as more accesss to pro-bono lawyers – to families, women and survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).
Specifically, the money will go towards four Luke’s Place projects, with the bulk of the funding ($2.4 million) geared to expanding services and enhancing access to virtual legal advice for survivors of IPV; and addressing gaps in family court support services for IPV survivors.
Justice Canada is also providing $291,755 through the Canadian Family Justice Fund for Luke’s Place initiatives to improve access to justice for women and their families navigating the family justice system.
“Everyone has a right to feel safe,” said Gary Anandasangaree, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, who was in Oshawa for the announcement. “I applaud the tremendous work that Luke’s Place is doing to support women, children and survivors of Intimate Partner Violence. Their tailored approach to the specific needs of women and their families will have a tremendous positive affect on the Durham community.”
“This investment,” he added, “supports our ongoing efforts, such as those set out in the federal Gender-based Violence Strategy, to improve access to justice and fairness in our justice system for all Canadians.”
Funding for the first two initiatives will help provide outreach services to marginalized and underserved communities and to recruit, train and mentor additional pro-bono lawyers.
This rest of the money will support women in underserved areas through an outreach campaign on the recent changes to the Divorce Act that will provide training to service providers on these changes, including measures for dealing with family violence; and increase access to family justice for women by providing research-based training to lawyers.
Luke’s Place helps remove systemic barriers faced by many survivors of IPV in the family justice system by focusing on the needs of women and their children who require assistance when dealing with family law matters, including accessible services for women with disabilities, or those for women requiring another language.
“The violence doesn’t end when a woman leaves an abusive partner; in fact, the risks for her and her children may increase” said Carol Barkwell, Luke Place’s founding Executive Director. “Women who have been subjected to intimate partner violence need critical supports as they navigate the complex family court system. The Department of Justice is an important partner in our efforts to provide these supports. With this funding, Luke’s Place is deepening our support to women with intersecting identities, enhancing our legal clinic services, developing new trainings and public legal education resources and expanding our collaborations with other community-based organizations and legal stakeholders across Ontario and Canada.”
Luke’s Place works with women who have been subjected to abuse to support them and their children through the family law process. They provide women, their children and their communities with specialized services, resources and information about family law and woman abuse.
Intimate Partner Violence, also known as spousal or domestic violence, has been on an alarming rise in recent years and many communities across Canada have declared IPV an “epidemic.”
In the 2021 federal budget, Ottawa invested $48.75 million over five years through two Justice Canada programs (the Victims Fund and Justice Partnership and Innovation Program) to ensure access to free legal advice and legal representation for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. The budget also promised an investment of $35 million over five years for enhanced family justice system supports for victims of IPV.
“Canadians expect high-quality and efficient services that are safe, accessible, and women and their families navigating the justice system deserve to have access to effective legal education and support,” said Whitby MP Ryan Turnbull. “The Government of Canada’s support for Luke’s Place’s initiatives will help empower women and families of women who are survivors of IPV by proving high quality, women-focused supports and legal information.”
Family law is an area of shared responsibility between the federal government and the provinces, with federal funding designed to support provincial and territorial governments, not-for-profit organizations, associations, academic institutions and individuals to extend the reach of family justice programs, services and information to meet the needs of diverse and underserved populations.
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