Mitigating Public Policy Deficits to Enhance Safety for Survivors
As the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) continues across Canada, a pressing issue emerges in Saskatchewan, which harbors the highest rates of GBV among the provinces. The gravity of the matter deepens when considering the northern regions of Saskatchewan, which surpass all of Canada in GBV rates, including territories.
The Dire State of Gender-Based Violence in Saskatchewan
GBV is a menace that affects women of all backgrounds, ages, racializations, abilities, and classes. Saskatchewan’s rates of GBV are staggering, doubling the national rate. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, these rates escalated, adding another layer of complexity to an already dire situation. The isolation and restrictions due to the pandemic made accessing resources even more challenging for survivors, intensifying the urgency for comprehensive solutions.
The Critical Role of Second-Stage Housing
One potential lifeline for GBV survivors is second-stage housing. This form of housing bridges the gap between emergency shelters and a life of independence. It provides survivors a safe environment to start over, free from violence. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan lagged in providing public funding for these essential shelters until a landmark decision in April 2023. Still, there is a considerable journey ahead in ensuring equitable and sufficient resources for survivors across the province.
The Research and Its Findings
In a collaborative initiative, SOFIA House, PATHS, and the University of Regina undertook a project to understand the depth of GBV in Saskatchewan and the potential of second-stage housing as a solution. The findings were eye-opening:
- Indigenous women and those living in the north are especially vulnerable to GBV.
- The response to GBV varies across Canada, highlighting the need for a consistent approach.
- Funding disparities in second-stage housing services across the nation are glaring.
- GBV’s connection to women’s homelessness underscores the importance of housing in mitigating GBV effects.
SOFIA House: Leading the Way
SOFIA House, symbolizing “wisdom,” has been at the forefront of the second-stage housing movement in Saskatchewan since 1988. It stands as an emblem of hope and healing for countless women and children seeking refuge from GBV. The services they offer, ranging from trauma healing to helping families regain independence, are pivotal in the journey of many survivors.