On November 24, 2020, I introduced Bill No. 213 - The Reporting of Supports for Child Survivors of Sexual Assault Act (Trained Health Professionals and Evidence Collection Kits). This will be my first bill as a Legislator.
The purpose if this bill is to help children and young people in northern and isolated communities access crucial health care when they have been sexually assaulted. Many communities, especially in northern Manitoba, do not have the health professionals to provide support to children who are victims of sexual abuse. This means that if a minor comes forward to report a sexual assault, they have to leave their community and travel by plane to Winnipeg just so DNA evidence can be gathered and charges can be laid. It’s an unnecessary layer of trauma for victims and a very real obstacle to finding perpetrators of sexual assault. The minor cannot take a shower until they arrive in Winnipeg to collect DNA evidence.
Bill 213 would also require the province to report annually on the number of health professionals trained and approved to examine child victims of sexual assault. It would also require the province to publicly report on the number of sexual assault evidence kits available in all health regions.
Currently in Northern communities like The Pas, only adults have access to sexual assault kits administered by the RCMP. If a minor reports sexual assault they are flown to the Health Science Centre in Winnipeg where they are seen by a sexual assault nurse examiner. Health professionals use evidence kits to gather DNA evidence which can later be used by police to charge perpetrators of sexual assault.
This inequality in access to resources for victims of sexual assault has grave implications on the number of minors who report abuse and the mental and emotional health of young victims. The government needs to act today to invest in more resources for underage victims of sexual assault in the North and ensure communities have an adequate supply of trained health professionals and sexual assault examination kits.
The second reading of Bill No. 213 will take place when we return for spring session in March. Together with my NDP colleagues, we are looking forward to the debates and discussions in committee for this bill. By the end of session, we aiming to have to this bill passed and receive royal assent when session ends in June.