For Immediate Release
17 May, 2023
Lela Evans, NDP MHA for Torngat Mountains, says that this government is failing to live up to its commitment to address the harms inflicted on sexual assault victims in the province. “I don’t know if this failure to expand the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program is intentional or just incompetence but it must stop,” said Evans.
In 2021, after repeated pleas from advocates, government committed to expand the specialized Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training to nurses outside the three medical centres which currently have them. Government then delayed the expansion, claiming a program coordinator had to be in place first.
“It is now 2023, two years after this government promised that the Provincial Co-ordinator would be hired,” said Evans. “What I find unacceptable is that the Minister of Health’s own decision document identities the real harm: ‘Often medical-forensic exams in rural areas are completed by nurses and physicians with little to no training in evidence collection. 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.’”
In recent weeks, government and health authority representatives have offered confusing and contradictory information about the status of the SANE program.
“Victims are falling through the cracks in government’s system. The confusion and meandering around filling this position betrays victims throughout the province. This role exists across Atlantic Canada; it is not something new to Newfoundland and Labrador.
“If justice for sexual assault victims is as important as the government ministers continue to say it is, they must take concrete action. Government has an obligation to provide adequate supports to promote recovery and healing as well as proper legal supports. Victims can’t wait any longer.”
For further information, contact Eddy St. Coeur, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), or email@example.com