New Democrats Call on B.C. Liberals to Make New Year’s Resolutions to Stop Violence Against Women

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Children and families critic Maurine Karagianis and Michelle Mungall are calling on the B.C. Liberals to take violence against women seriously, back down from planned cuts to services for women– and make a real commitment to implementing the recommendations made by the Representative for Children and Youth and others who want our justice system to deal with violence against women and children in a more integrated and effective way.

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MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Dec. 31, 2009

NEW DEMOCRATS CALL ON B.C. LIBERALS TO MAKE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS TO STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

VICTORIA – New Democrat MLAs want the B.C. Liberal government to head into the new year with a commitment to stopping violence against women and children.

“We think that today is a perfect day for the B.C. Liberals to make a New Year’s resolution to do their part to end domestic violence,” said New Democrat MLA for Nelson-Creston Michelle Mungall, chair of the Official Opposition Women’s Caucus.

“To start with, the government must restore the $1.2 million they plan to cut from transition houses and victim services,” said Mungall. “The B.C. Liberals reversed the cut announced for 2009 when New Democrats stood with community groups and local governments against the proposed cuts, but so far they still plan to slash this funding in 2010.

“New Democrats also successfully fought to have funding restored to the New Westminster Domestic Violence Response Team, but their funding extension runs out in March, showing that the B.C. Liberals just won’t commit to solutions to end domestic violence,” Mungall said.

Since forming government in 2001, the B.C. Liberals have watered down policies designed to protect women suffering from domestic violence abuse, fallen short on providing the resources to investigate the murders and missing women on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the Highway of Tears, and failed to act on recommendations stemming from the Oak Bay murder-suicide of the Lee family in 2007.

“The B.C. Liberals have ignored the recommendations put forward by the Representative for Children and Youth regarding this tragic and preventable event, saying they wanted to wait for the coroner’s inquest to be complete,” said Maurine Karagianis, New Democrat critic for Children and Family Development. “Well, the coroner has now made several recommendations too, but the B.C. Liberals have yet to commit to any of them.

“We are calling on the government to make a New Year’s resolution to take action on these recommendations – especially the coroner’s call to establish regional and provincial domestic violence response units. Fully funding dedicated domestic violence courts would also go a long way to protecting women and children from family violence,” said Karagianis, MLA for Esquimalt-Royal Roads.

Langley RCMP and a dedicated Crown prosecutor for domestic violence were involved in a highly successful pilot project that showed how police, Crown prosecutors and community groups can work together to protect women and children facing abuse. Despite being viewed as a model for successfully navigating domestic violence cases, the B.C. Liberals eliminated funding for the program.

“There are several concrete steps that the B.C. Liberals could take to end violence against women and children in British Columbia, but they refuse to act,” said Mungall. “New Democrats would restore funding to women’s centres that can offer counseling, referral and other frontline services to women in need across the province and restore funding to vital legal aid services. The B.C. Liberals should resolve to take a hard look at the direction they’ve taken and the consequences to women across British Columbia.”

Carole James and the New Democrats have been holding the B.C. Liberals accountable for breaking their word on the HST, and for backtracking on their election promises to protect health care, education, and other vital services.