The RCMP will receive additional funding from the federal government to create a new national unit to review about 25,000 sexual assault cases that were previously deemed “unfounded” by investigators.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s budget yesterday includes $10 million in funding for the new unit over five years, plus $2 million per following year.
The unit will coordinate the review of these cases, which date back to 2015, in hopes of providing new accountability across law enforcement for sexual assult investigations. This includes the development of curriculum and training to address the problems raised by deeming aligations “unfounded.”
“Sexual assault is a serious crime that can have devastating and long-lasting effects on victims,” reads the budget.
“When individuals come forward to police, they should be treated with the compassion and respect that they deserve. Positive experiences with police investigations can also encourage others to report these crimes.”
The RCMP began reviewing its “unfounded” cases last year after receiving media criticism over sexual assault reports were being investigated by the national police force and other police departments across the country. So far, it has reviewed 2,000 case files, which has resulted in the launch of 284 investigations as of December 2017.
This new program coincides with the recent rise of the #metoo movement against sexual harassment and assault.
Ottawa’s combined programs to combat gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination will cost $187 million over the next five years.