Thursday, July 12

Oda, northern ministers agree to more talks on shelter funding

Northern leaders say they're hopeful they can work towards more funding for women's shelters in the North, following talks Wednesday with the federal minister responsible for the status of women.

Bev Oda met with her provincial and territorial counterparts Tuesday and Wednesday in Iqaluit. One of the issues discussed was $56 million in funding Oda announced last month at the National Aboriginal Women's Summit for shelters and prevention programs.

But northern ministers pointed out that the funding is restricted to shelters on First Nations reserves and there are no reserves in the North, where women face higher rates of domestic violence than those living in the southern provinces.

Oda said she will see what she can do, adding that Ottawa provides other programs to support shelters and help local organizations through special projects.

"I've agreed with the territorial ministers that there are special needs, there are special circumstances and we have agreed that we will work further to look at recognizing those needs and how they can best be addressed," Oda said. "So at this point, we've agreed to do some further work."

Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut's minister responsible for the status of women, said she has been working with Yukon Women's Directorate Minister Elaine Taylor and N.W.T. counterpart Charles Dent to form a common front on the issue. They will continue to work together to seek a deal for more support from Ottawa.

"When you look at the three northern territories — and when you look at aboriginal women who are subject to three times the national rate of spousal assault, family violence — certainly the federal government should be working in collaboration with our respective governments to address some of these dire issues," added Taylor.

A Statistics Canada survey released last year suggested 12 per cent of adults living in the three territories who had lived common law or been married at some point experienced violence at their spouses' hands between 1999 and 2004. That's compared to seven per cent in the provinces. The use of shelters is also higher in the territories than anywhere else in Canada, the survey indicated.

No comments: