The Government of Alberta has announced $1 million in funding for a pilot project aimed at better supporting victims of sexual assault in rural Alberta.
Sexual violence crimes are among the lowest-reported crimes in Canada, with an estimated six per cent of these crimes being reported to police.
They also have a very low conviction rate of just 0.3 per cent.
This is even lower in rural areas, where access to sexual assault kits is sparse, and victims have to travel to urban centres for access.
Associate Minister of Status of Women Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk says the funding will be used to provide easier access to these kits for rural Albertans.
"If survivors choose to file a report and seek evidence collection after an assault, collecting physical evidence within 72 hours of the assault increases the likelihood of obtaining forensic evidence. This is why it is critical to ensure more sexual assault survivors have access to proper care and support. "
The pilot project will provide free training for rural healthcare practitioners.
According to Armstrong-Homeniuk, the goal is to provide the training to two employees per-Alberta hospital, around 190 total.
She believes that easier access to these services will lead to higher reporting of these cases, along with higher convictions.
Data is to be gathered during the pilot to determine if it will see long-term funding.