Release: Budget 2020: Province committed to staying the course, but leaves many behind

VICTORIA – Today, the provincial government released Budget 2020. While we are pleased that this budget is aimed at holding the course on earlier commitments, it still leaves BC’s most marginalized residents lagging far behind.

“This budget does not go far enough to address the gendered dimensions of poverty and inequity,” says Raji Mangat, Executive Director of West Coast LEAF. “In fact, the budget leaves huge gaps in services that may ultimately stymie the province’s overall progress on addressing gender-based violence, supporting families, children and youth, and justice sector reform.”

“The budget provides $13 million over three years to the Crime Victims Assistance Program. It is unclear how these funds will be allocated,” says Mangat. “We continue to press for the funding of community-based sexual assault crisis response teams and integrated sexual assault clinics. These services are essential to ensuring appropriate and safe care for survivors, and are a critical component of meeting the province’s commitment to address gender-based violence.”

Despite the release of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in June 2019, this budget has no commitments directed at implementing the Calls for Justice recommended by the National Inquiry. “We are deeply disappointed that no mention is made in this budget of how BC will respond to the Calls for Justice,” adds Mangat. “This glaring omission leaves the province lacking in accountability to Indigenous women, girls, transgender and Two-Spirit people.”

“The province has committed $23 million over three years for services to support the health, safety and well-being of children and youth. These funds should be directed at providing upstream support services to parents and kinship caregivers, the vast majority of whom are women.” states Mangat. “Poverty remains among the most significant structural factors that lead to the removal of children from their homes, which has disproportionately harmed Indigenous families.”

This budget includes funding in the amount of $57 million over three years for legal aid services. It is important to note that these funds are not an investment in reducing barriers to legal aid eligibility or an increase in civil legal aid services. West Coast LEAF is very disappointed with the province’s continuing failure to adequately fund legal aid and will continue to push for meaningful investments in access to justice for women and people experiencing gender-based marginalization.