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Political rivals come together to fight for funding for human trafficking victims
LONDON, ONT. -- Two London-area members of parliament are among those who have penned a letter to the Prime Minister and other ministers regarding funding for victims and survivors of human trafficking.
Despite being on the opposite sides of the political spectrum MPs Karen Vecchio (Conservative) and Lindsay Mathyssen (NDP) have come together to help present the letter.
Vecchio is the MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, while Mathyssen is the MP for London-Fanshawe.
The pair are part of a group of critics from all four opposition parties who held a press conference on Thursday to discuss their letter.
Vecchio said, “We know that there has been an increase of sexual exploitation and human trafficking and this problem has been made even worse through COVID-19.”
Mathyssen added, “The federal government needs to get back to providing, core, stable, reliable funding to women's organizations so they can deliver these needed services.”
Andréanne Larouche of the Bloc Quebecois and Jenica Atwin of the Green Party are also part of the letter.
The press conference comes the day after a London woman shared her harrowing story of being trafficked from the age of four with CTV News.
Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women's Center LAWC), said “Brenda's story...really shifted the dialogue and shifted the motivation for people to become involved.”
She says 650 girls and women who were trafficked or sexually exploited have been provided long-term counselling by the LAWC over the last five years.
Peter Fragiskatos, the Liberal MP for London North Centre, responded with his support for the organization.
“I recognize their need for funding right now to combat human trafficking and so I'm steadfast in my work and I will continue to make that clear to the government.”
But Walker says, “This really comes down to an issue of does this government support women and girls or doesn't it. And if we don't get the funding the clear answer is they don't.”
Earlier this month the LAWC announced that it would have to close a federally funded program for the victims of human trafficking after funding proposals were not approved.
The program was slated to close Friday however enough money has been raised by the community to keep it open until the end of June.
- With files from CTV's Nick Paparella, Justin Zadorsky and Amanda Taccone