Trudeau’s Liberals have discontinued funding for a Harper-era initiative which created and enhanced services for women exploited by the sex trade, leaving many charities that were funded through the program with an uncertain future.
The Measures to Address Prostitution Initiative [MAPI] had been delivered through the Justice Department’s victim fund, and sought to address the “disproportionate and negative impact” prostitution and sex trafficking had on “women, children, and other marginalized groups.”
The Initiative provided funding to charities, non-profits and First Nations to develop and continue programs to assist exploited women seeking to safely exit the sex trade and provide them with the critical resources necessary to build a life. Trauma support, addictions services, and services for those victimized women seeking to navigate the justice system were also noted as potential projects which qualified for the funding.
One organization, the London Abused Women’s Centre, has already announced it will be having to shutter its anti-sex trafficking program as a result of the funding loss. The program serviced 3,107 prostituted, sexually exploited, and at-risk women and girls.
In a statement posted to their social media on May 12, the Centre wrote:
“The Trudeau government claims to be feminist-centric and equality seeking yet has failed to fund the Victims of Crime Fund for victims of trafficking. The result leaves federally funded programs geared to the protection of trafficked women and girls across Canada with no choice but to close.”
In their statement, the London Abused Women’s Centre took aim at the Government for “hypocritically” discontinuing funding for programs aimed at abused women and girls, while allowing sex industry-based businesses where women are often exploited to claim the COVID emergency business benefit, an interest-free loan valued at up to $40,000.
The defunding of the MAPI program comes as more headlines underscore that sexual and physical violence against at-risk women is increasing due to the economically stagnant, lockdown conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, domestic violence shelters also reported financial difficulties they said the federal government was not doing enough to address.