Some of you may have already heard, but yesterday the Ministry of the Attorney General announced that in Ottawa, Toronto and Thunder Bay, the province of Ontario will be piloting a new program for survivors of sexual assault. This program allows survivors of sexual assault free access to legal advice, regardless of how long it has been since the incident.
Here are some quick facts about the program from the “news.ontario.ca” website:
- The pilot is expected to run until March 2018. During that time, the province will assess the effectiveness of the program and determine its next steps.
- Services provided under the program are available to both women and men who are at least 16 years of age and the assault must have occurred in Ontario.
- Through the program, eligible survivors can choose from a roster of lawyers to provide legal advice. Although these lawyers will not provide legal representation (e.g. speak for the client in court), they may advise a client to speak to a lawyer who can represent them.
- Survivors of sexual assault in any of the pilot sites can get information about the program in multiple languages through the toll-free, 24/7 phone line: 1-855-226-3904.
- One in three women and one in six men experience some form of sexual assault in their lives.
So, how do it register for this program?
All female and male survivors do have access to this program and must fill out a voucher request form, which can be found here: Voucher Request Form.
I am proud to see that the province of Ontario is taking such initiative. They are taking strides in their It’s Never Okay– Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment. They want to ensure that survivors of sexual assault are informed and that they receive the support they need. I hope that this plan does help to change attitudes and that it does create more support for all survivors of sexual assault.
To read more details about the pilot program, please follow this link to the Ontario Newsroom, where they outline all the details of the pilot program.