News / Vancouver

'Barely a dent': B.C. gets mere C grade on gendered violence

Massacre memorial day marked with local vigils as legal group issues scathing annual report card.

Public participates in a vigil for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls taking place at Allan Gardens in downtown Toronto, Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Eduardo Lima / Toronto Star

Public participates in a vigil for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls taking place at Allan Gardens in downtown Toronto, Tuesday, October 04, 2016

As Canada once again remembers the Montreal women massacred in 1989, a Vancouver women's rights legal group says much more needs to be done to combat violence against women in B.C.

And despite some promising steps, the province's new government barely raised their grade from their predecessors, earning just a C+ grade on West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)'s annual report card.

"While B.C. has pulled up its grade in seven of the nine key areas this year," the report noted, "the report card still shows a serious need for improvement in order to fulfill international commitments on women’s human rights."

B.C. got a C for violence against women — falling from C+ last year and B the year before — because despite "some action taken … no new funding was allocated to support women who have experienced violence." And West Coast LEAF said the system still offers too little justice for sexual violence survivors.

One of the lowest grades, a D+, was for women's access to justice, because of what the report's authors characterized as a legal aid system "in crisis" for women especially.

And while West Coast LEAF lauded the NDP for re-launching of the B.C. Human Rights Commission as well as the Parents Legal Centre pilot project in Vancouver and soon in Surrey, "these make barely a dent in addressing women’s need for legal help."

Wednesday is National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, with vigils and other events held across the country every year since 14 women were murdered by a man in a Montreal university.

In Vancouver 6 p.m., the Connection is Healing drop-in candle memorial with live music is hosted by Women Against Violence Against Women (28 West 5th Ave.). And in Surrey, at 6:30 p.m. a vigil hosted by labour groups will be held in Holland Park.

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