Domestic Dilemma

Domestic Dilemma

By: David Swanson
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On July 26 2010, Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) eliminated its domestic violence and counselling program. The program, established in 1992, has been increasing effective in managing and minimizing domestic abuse in the Metro-Vancouver area, helping individuals, mainly women, develop the emotional and mental tools needed to escape abusive partnerships. In addition, the program has been responsible for facilitating violence awareness aimed at helping people recognize the early signs of an abusive relationships, ultimately aiding in its prevention.

Michelle de Moor, The VGH Operations Director, stated that:

“the expanding aging population, many without family supports, reports of adult abuse, adult-neglect and self-neglect are on the increase. This work is complex, time intensive, requires specialty skills as well as knowledge of the legislation. It has become increasingly challenging to provide dedicated resources to the growing number of domestic violence cases coming through the VGH emergency department.”

“Over the next few months, we will be working with the Domestic Violence program staff to transition existing outpatients to similar counseling services available in the community.”

Unfortunately, the two groups that VGH is outsourcing their patients to were not informed or consulted regarding the decision to eliminate the domestic violence program. Both the Battered Women’s Support Services andVancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter said that their wait list is already over 100 applicants and that they do not have the resources to manage such a large increase in patients. 

Government budgetary cuts are becoming an increasingly prevalent means for reducing the provincial deficit. It is expected that the post-Olympic economy would require increased taxation and cuts to social funding, however, the way in which Premier Gordon Campbell implemented this cut is not reasonable or democratic. First, he is using not-for-profit organizations as the primary party responsible for managing domestic abuse and violence. Not only are these institutions not receiving adequate government funding, but they are now burdened with the sole responsibility of a task that is constitutionally the responsibility of the government. These organization are put in place to aid the public, ultimately, providing indirect support to the government by assisting in social welfare.

In addition, this decision was made without addressing the Vancouver public. No vote was held and, therefore, many feel that the civil rights and liberties of both the victims of domestic violence and the public were disregarded. Also, the right of access to social services that provide safety and security of the person is necessity. If the government is not helping relinquish individuals from oppressive social forces, they are indirectly perpetuating negative conditions that victimize a population.

If you feel that a social injustice has occurred and would like to see the program be reinstated, please sign the online petition that is circulating at http://www.bchealthcoalition.ca/content/view/262/82to sign the petition fighting for the programs revival.

By David Swanson

 

Posted on August 18, 2010