Government needs to act on Missing Women recommendations

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VICTORIA— B.C. New Democrats are demanding answers about whether the B.C. Liberals intend to fulfill all the recommendations made by the Missing Women’s Commission.

“The government needs to stop foot-dragging and act now on the commission’s recommendations,” said New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix. “The premier is offering nothing but slogans—it’s easy to talk about a violence-free B.C., but it takes real action to get there. We need to stop further violence before it happens, with a priority on a shuttle bus service on Highway 16 and access to drop-in centres for vulnerable women.”

The Missing Women’s Commission examined the lives and deaths of women who were murdered or went missing in Vancouver’s downtown eastside and along Highway 16, also known as the Highway of Tears. The Commission made more than 60 recommendations in its report which was released in November, 2012.

The commission identified a number of urgent recommendations. Among those were ensuring vulnerable women had access to drop in services and the provision of a shuttle bus along the Highway of Tears. Neither recommendation has been fulfilled.

When New Democrat women’s critic Maurine Karagianis asked when the B.C. Liberal government would take action on these recommendations the Justice Minister responded by suggesting B.C. women should be satisfied with recently introduced legislation that does nothing to prevent women from going missing.

“These mothers, sisters, daughters, and aunties were taken from their communities and taken from their families. It’s brutally insensitive for the B.C. Liberals to suggest that police computer programs and missing persons’ legislation is a replacement for real action that would have kept these women safe and alive,” said Karagianis.

“Fourteen months after the Missing Women’s Inquiry, there is still no budget or timeline for a shuttle bus on the Highway of Tears, no mental health and addiction programs for and by aboriginal women and youth, no mandatory police sensitivity training, no justice to the victims’ families through a compensation fund and no champion to implement the recommendations,” said Jenny Kwan, the New Democrat MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant.

“This is Canada’s worst serial murder case.  The Missing and Murdered Women’s Inquiry gave us a roadmap to a truly violence-free B.C. and the B.C. Liberals replaced it with a bumper sticker slogan.”