Ford government disbands Liberals' expert panel to end violence against women

October 18, 2018
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

Ontario's Progressive Conservative government has pulled the plug on an expert panel to end violence against women that was established under the Liberals to provide strategic advice on policies.

Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod, who is also responsible for women's issues, immigration and poverty reduction, informed the panel, called the Roundtable on Violence Against Women, in a letter on Tuesday.

"Although we recognize the valuable advice your members have provided," she wrote, "we will not be reconvening this particular roundtable created by the previous government. In the near future, however, I look forward to working with representatives across various sectors to advance the empowerment of women across the province and to address violence against women and human trafficking."

Knowing the announcement was coming, co-chairs Farrah Khan and Pamela Cross had announced their resignations the same morning. They had been debating the move since September, Ms. Khan, a Toronto-based anti-violence educator, said on Wednesday - noting that the government had not returned any of their calls or e-mails since taking office in June.

Nevertheless, she was disappointed and confused by the decision to scrap the roundtable.

"It's disappointing because the groups in this [roundtable] are nonpartisan," she said.

She noted that other than the co-chairs, who earned a small stipend, the roundtable was comprised entirely of volunteers.

"These are largely grassroots folks who contributed a lot of their own time to assisting the previous government, and who were prepared to continue contributing that time," said Ms. Cross, who is a lawyer. "And I think they're pretty disappointed and angry."

The roundtable was established in 2015, as a way for experts to provide strategic advice to the province on emerging issues related to violence against women. It is made up of representatives from close to two dozen organizations that address issues related to violence against women − but also those that have experience with specific populations, including Indigenous women, immigrants, older women, LGBTQ people and sex workers.

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