A crucial funding shortfall could lengthen service times for victims of sexual assault in Muskoka and Parry Sound.

Lauren Power is the Executive Director of Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services. The organization helps women with various needs following a sexual assault.

She says the Attorney General of Ontario has announced a substantial cut to the promised funds for the coming year. She says they will be receiving under $20,000, a drop of nearly $70,000 that was earmarked previously.

“So my own agency had been given in writing a notice last May that we would be receiving close to $90,000,” confirms Power.

With that money, an extra case worker was going to be hired, with all the extra costs that come with such a position also covered.

“So we are in the same position we have been in for 25 years now,” explains Power. “We have never been able to hire another worker in a sustained way.”

She said people needing services will be seen, but it could take a lot longer, which can have a negative effect on victims.

“They shouldn’t have to wait through those months,” Power says. “Our disappointment is that what we know now that we are just going to receive a small portion of those funds.”

Despite the bad news, Power says they will make do with what they are getting now.

“What we’re going to do I think is just look at trying to hire some hours from somebody,” she explains. “The funding will come and it will go to direct services.”

She says operational costs such as rent and other expenses will not come from the funding received from the Attorney General.

“We’re going to try put it really forward for providing services for women in this year,” offers Power.

While the funding has been cut, fundraising, a staple for the organization, will continue with events in March and April.

“One is March 23rd in Huntsville and that is through the support of Mike Lopez Phillips,” she confirms. “There is a fundraiser at the Legion so come on out and support us with that. We’re going to hear some great music. The other one is April the 5th at Sawdust City through Lisa Carruthers-Parkin.”

All money raised in those events will also go directly to funding their therapist.

“We are trying to keep a part-time therapist that we hired with fundraised dollars. And we’re scrambling madly now to keep her,” Power says.