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Lack of Government Action Failing Victims of Sexual Assault: Evans

Updated: May 17, 2023


For Immediate Release

4 May, 2023


Lela Evans, NDP MHA for Torngat Mountains has asked government to explain the lack of progress made to hire a Provincial Coordinator for the Sexual Assault Examiner Nurse Program (SANE). The program exists in only three emergency departments in the province and is not available to residents of Labrador or Central Newfoundland.


In February, Evans asked government to expand the SANE program into Labrador and Central, and to increase SANE nurses across the province to ensure victims of sexual assault have access to support. An ATIPP request from the NDP caucus office reveals no records of any work done to fill this position, despite the minister stating work has been “active and underway” since 2021.


“The lack of urgency to get this position filled and this essential program expanded into all areas of the province is failing victims of sexual assault,” said Evans. “This program is meant to ensure that when someone goes to the hospital after a sexual assault they are met with trained, trauma-informed care from a person with the correct knowledge and tools to collect crucial evidence should the victim want to bring the assault to court.”


A decision document prepared for the Minister of Health in October of 2022 states, “beyond the risk of retraumatizing the patient, this may also lead to errors in evidence collection, lack of DNA findings or evidence not being accepted for court.” Since this program has still not seen expansion throughout the entire province, Evans asked the Premier, “How high of a priority are victims of sexual assault to this government?”


“This program has been provided at Eastern Health since 2005. It is now 2023, and victims of sexual assault still do not have the access to the supports they need,” said Evans. “This government claims they understand the importance of this program but the lack of action tells a different story.


“Women’s advocacy groups across the province started the call for expansion back in 2020, and they continue to be sidelined in updates on this program. Our call for the immediate hiring of the Provincial Coordinator position is backed by PANSOW (Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women Council), as they recognize the importance of not letting victims fall through the gaps left open by government.”


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For further information, contact Stephanie Curran, Media Relations Manager, NDP Caucus at 330.0328 (o), or stephaniecurran@gov.nl.ca


NR 04052023 Lack of Government Action Failing Victims of Sexual Assault Evans
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