BY CAROLE JAMES
B.C. Finance Minister
EQUALITY is the foundation of a just fair society. When we empower people to fully participate in our communities, everyone benefits.
We still have a long way to go before everyone in British Columbia has an equal chance to thrive. Women still struggle to be treated equally, and they face gender-based violence that makes it difficult to succeed.
Violence against women hurts us all and has long-lasting effects on families and communities.
Recent events have brought gender-based violence to the forefront of public debate. From the #metoo movement to public allegations of sexual misconduct by men in positions of power, women are speaking out about the profound impact that sexual assault, harassment and violence has had in their lives, and in the lives of loved ones.
For every woman who has courageously stepped forward, there are thousands more who suffer in silence. Domestic violence and sexual assault affects tens of thousands of women and children in B.C. each year.
We want everyone to feel safe and secure in their relationships, their homes and their communities. Everyone deserves to know they can speak out if something isn’t right, and to know that they will have the support they need to find safety.
Survivors can’t fight gender-based violence alone. They need to know that they have a community of support around them when they face violence and discrimination.
That’s why our government is enhancing supports for women and children affected by violence, and investing in education and prevention programs to stop violence before it happens.
For too long, community organizations helping women affected by violence have not had the resources and support they needed, with gaps in service and growing waitlists for counselling and crisis programs. Our additional, one time investment of $5million will help reduce waitlists and get women and children quicker access to counselling and crisis services.
If we want to end gender-based violence for good, we need to make sure women are treated as full and equal citizens in every aspect of their lives.
Our government is committed to equality, which is why, for the first time in B.C. half of our cabinet ministers are women. This is a huge step forward for representation, and a step towards making sure we are doing everything we can, across the province, to improve equality for everyone.
We’re also doing our best to address inequality by making child care more accessible and affordable. Without childcare, many women can’t access economic opportunity. Similarly we’re taking action to address poverty, improve housing affordability and increase the minimum wage.
And we are taking our first steps to renew the BC Human Rights Commission, because every person deserves to live in dignity.
We still have a long way to go before we reach equality. But we won’t stop working towards making our province stronger by making it a better, more equal place for everyone.