High demand for services, lack of funding, forces sexual assault centre to turn down requests for help
FREDERICTON -- A sexual assault support centre in New Brunswick has announced it is no longer taking new requests for counselling because it doesn't have enough money.
There are now calls for the provincial government to step in and support the organization.
The phone lines at Sexual Violence New Brunswick (SVNB) have been busy. In the last two years, the number of calls to the support line and requests for counselling has tripled.
"With hashtag '#MeToo,' with some very high-profile sexual assault cases that have happened in our country and in North America, we've seen that rise in individuals coming forward," says Lorraine Whalley, SVNB's executive director.
But, because of funding limitations, SVNB has announced it's no longer able to take on new referrals for their counselling program.
While they do get funding from the federal and provincial governments, Whalley says it's short-term project funding -- not core funding.
The United Way of central New Brunswick currently funds some of the cost of running the support line and counselling program.
"They currently fund what would amount to a day of week of counselling and currently the need we have, we would need 10 times that much," Whalley said.
It's a situation New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon wants to see changed.
He says it's essential that government steps up.
"Really, it speaks to the larger issue that government has got to become full partners with non-profits groups who are on the front lines delivering essential services to people and the government's not there," Coon said.
Whalley says they are now advocating for core funding from the province for specialized trauma-informed sexual violence counselling services.
In the meantime, the province says they are aware of the recent challenges faced by SVNB and they will continue to work with them to find solutions.