OTTAWA— Progress on ending violence against women in Canada is stalled by the absence of a coherent national policy and consistent information about the levels of that violence says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
“The difficulty of collecting data about violence against women has been a barrier to progress in ending that violence,” says the study’s author Kate McInturff. “However, the data that does exist tells us three things very clearly: this problem is big, it comes at a high cost, and we are making little or no progress in putting a stop to it.”
The study estimates the combined cost of adult sexual assault and intimate partner violence is $334 per person per year in Canada. This puts the cost of these crimes on par with the cost of the use of illegal drugs in Canada (an estimated $262 per person) or the cost of smoking (an estimated $541 per person). Federal public spending to address violence against women, on the other hand, amounted to $2.77 per person for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
“We can put an end to violence against women. Federal and provincial governments have an important role to play in doing so,” says McInturff. “In order to be more effective, we need more information about the nature and scope of the problem, a coherent and coordinated plan to address the problem, and adequate political, financial, and human resources put behind that plan.”
The study makes several recommendations on how to improve the situation, including: the implementation of regular, sensitive, detailed surveys of incidence of sexual assault and intimate partner violence; and a coherent, coordinated, well-resourced national action plan to address violence against women.
“This problem affects too many Canadians and comes with too great a personal and public cost for Canada to continue on its current path. Without a significant investment of political, financial, and human resources, we will see levels of violence against women continue to remain at the current level. Canada can do better. Millions of Canadians and billions of dollars depend on it,” McInturff concludes.
The Gap in the Gender Gap: Violence Against Women in Canada is available on the CCPA website at http://policyalternatives.ca