Joint ministers’ message

As we reflect on the horrific impact of gender-based violence, particularly the tragic loss of lives among women and children, we must come together in our resolve to create a better province, full of opportunity and free of gender-based violence.

We know that gender-based violence often leaves communities shattered and families grappling with enduring intergenerational trauma. Ontario is committed to ending these unacceptable acts of violence in our province and supporting survivors and their families.

Ontario is taking action to combat these terrible crimes, leading the charge against human trafficking and child exploitation through our Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy. Collaborating with Indigenous partners, our ministry is taking an all of government approach to responding to violence against Indigenous women and girls, guided by Pathways to Safety — Ontario’s strategy emanating from the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

But we acknowledge that there is more work to do. Recent tragic events make it even more clear that there is a need to increase efforts to prevent gender-based violence before it occurs — and to better protect and support people experiencing intimate partner and family violence.

Ontario-STANDS: Standing Together Against gender-based violence Now through Decisive actions, prevention, empowerment and Supports will bring us one step closer to a system focused on preventing and ending cycles of intimate partner and family violence, while supporting crisis-response services that are in high demand, such as shelters and crisis help-lines.

The action plan will help us move towards a more connected system where child protection workers, police, judges, social workers, educators, and health care professionals collaborate and share information more often. Sector partners can work together to help keep women and their children safe by identifying and stopping perpetrators early — and holding them accountable for abusive behaviour.

Gender-based violence is a complex, multi-faceted problem and must be addressed with evidence-based and targeted approaches. That is why we are supporting culturally responsive and trauma-informed initiatives and programs for newcomer, Indigenous and rural and remote communities. A community call for proposals will expand gender-based violence prevention programs and fund innovative evidence-based approaches that respond to local and community-specific needs. Addressing the intersection of intimate partner violence and the child welfare system will also help intervene and provide support early. At its root, gender-based violence is often based in harmful attitudes about women. Education strategies for boys and men that disrupt these attitudes and teach about fostering healthy relationships will also help to end violence in future generations and will help to create a better future for us all.

Together — in close partnership with Indigenous communities, sector stakeholders, and the federal government — we will break the cycle of intimate partner violence and support survivors to help keep communities safe.

Michael Parsa
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services

Charmaine A Williams
Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity


Everyone has the right to feel safe and live free from gender-based violence.

Through Ontario’s four-year plan, Ontario-STANDS: Standing Together Against gender-based violence Now through Decisive actions, prevention, empowerment and Supports (“Ontario-STANDS”), the Government of Ontario is building on existing efforts to prevent, address and respond to gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence refers to harmful acts of physical, economic, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse based on someone’s gender and unequal power dynamicsfootnote 1. It can take the form of human trafficking, sexual assault and exploitation, femicide, stalking, intimate partner violence and family violence.

Gender-based violence is a pervasive issue that affects people of all backgrounds, genders and ages. While some women are more at risk of gender-based violence than others (for example, Indigenous women), gender-based violence can happen to anyone regardless of culture, religion or economic status.

Intimate partner and family violence in Ontario

Intimate partner violence is violence that happens during or after a marriage, common-law, dating or romantic relationship. In Ontario:

  • Exposure to intimate partner violence accounts for 45% of child maltreatment investigations by child welfare agenciesfootnote 2 .
  • Between November 26, 2022 and November 25, 2023, 62 women and children lost their lives in gender-related killings by men. 19 (31%) were killed through intimate partner violence and 15 (24%) were killed by family membersfootnote 3.
  • Intimate partner violence rates vary among regions. Northern, rural and remote communities face challenges in accessing supports and services, which can increase survivor vulnerability in these areas. In Thunder Bay — where rates of police-reported intimate partner violence are among the highest in the country — the rate per 100,000 was 551 in 2022footnote 4.

Ontario invests in a number of programs and services to address gender-based violence. This includes efforts to respond to human trafficking, sexual exploitation and violence against Indigenous women and girls through initiatives like Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy and Pathways to Safety: Ontario’s strategy in response to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The Government of Ontario has made progress in responding to gender-based violence. Ontario introduced new legislation to strengthen sexual violence and harassment policies in postsecondary institutions. In addition, ongoing work to modernize the child welfare system through Ontario’s Child Welfare Redesign Strategy will help protect children and improve child, youth and family wellbeing. But there is more work that can be done to better address the root causes of violence and support the longer-term needs of survivors.

Services and programs — such as shelters, child witness programs, victim services, counselling, and transitional housing supports — are in high demand and facing workforce and delivery pressures.

The availability of supports and services across the province varies. In rural and remote communities there are geographic and social barriers to accessing gender-based violence services. To better protect victims and survivors, there is a need to improve collaboration across social and justice services, including policing, so that perpetrators are identified and stopped before violence escalates — and held accountable for abusive and violent behaviour.

Ontario is committed to tackling these issues to enhance cross-sector collaboration, increase safety for women and children, and improve supports for survivors, their families, and perpetrators of gender-based violence.

Building upon Ontario’s existing investments, the cross-government action plan will respond to sector needs and unique community contexts, with a focus on prevention and supporting people at the highest risk of experiencing violence.

Ontario’s approach

Ontario-STANDS focuses on preventing gender-based violence and addressing the root causes, while also supporting the healing and longer-term needs of survivors, their children and families. Ontario’s plan will enhance gender-based violence prevention by:

  • intervening early
  • strengthening service coordination
  • investing in local community-led, culturally responsive solutions
  • providing educational supports to promote healthy relationships and disrupt attitudes fostering gender-based violence

Initiatives will help raise awareness about gender-based violence and the services and support available for survivors and their children. The action plan will help increase the availability of services and supports to reach the most underserved and at-risk populations, including Indigenous and rural and remote communities.

Focus on prevention

Evidence shows that prevention-focused approaches to gender-based violence can help reduce incidents of violence and change behaviours.

Services across Ontario — including child protection, policing, hospitals, schools, women’s shelters, helplines and counselling — all play a role in preventing gender-based violence. Training for professionals who are likely to first notice and respond to the warning signs of gender-based violence can help stop violence before it occurs and connect survivors to the supports they need early.

Child welfare is often one of the first sectors to be made aware of the presence of intimate partner and family violence. The action plan will build stronger connections between children’s aid societies and other sectors to improve service coordination, family safety, and supports for children and youth who are at risk of or have experienced violence in the home.

To end gender-based violence in the long-term, harmful attitudes and behaviours that normalize violence must change. Education and awareness initiatives under the action plan will help boys, men, children and youth learn about what gender-based violence is and how to foster healthy relationships. These actions, along with initiatives to hold perpetrators accountable and provide rehabilitative supports, will help break cycles of violence.

Cross-government collaboration

The cross-government action plan was developed in collaboration with several ministries. To help the province move towards more integrated solutions, ministries will work together to implement actions that span across education, social services, housing, health and justice sectors.

Partnering for change

Ontario-STANDS is supported by an investment of $162 million from Canada’s National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence. This is a welcome addition to Ontario’s investment of over $1.4 billion in gender-based violence services and prevention over the same period of time. Ontario will continue to work with federal, provincial and territorial partners to end gender-based violence in all its forms.

Ontario’s action plan responds to feedback and recommendations from key sector partners and community and academic experts. It also reflects advice from a range of reviews on violence against women and children. This includes key recommendations from:

  • the Inquest into the deaths of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam
  • the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee
  • the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Ontario is committed to continued collaboration with Indigenous partners, sector stakeholders, municipalities and local organizations. Their perspectives will help ensure the implementation of the action plan is responsive to diverse local contexts across the province and makes meaningful change in communities.

The action plan builds on important work the Government of Ontario is currently leading to respond to gender-based violence, such as:

The action plan will strengthen the province’s response to gender-based violence and increase focus on prevention, recovery and responses to intimate partner and family violence.

Addressing human trafficking in Ontario

In 2020, the Government of Ontario released Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy 2020–2025 (the “strategy”) to build safer communities by combatting human trafficking and child sexual exploitation.

The strategy aims to raise awareness of the issue through training and public awareness campaigns, empowering frontline service providers to prevent human trafficking and intervene earlier, and supporting survivors through specialized services. Since its launch, the strategy has implemented substantial initiatives — including investments to help service providers enhance supports for individuals who have experienced human trafficking in rural communities.

Community-based and culturally appropriate supports

Timely access to community-based and culturally appropriate services is essential to effectively prevent violence and support survivors in rebuilding their lives. Services that respond to family and community cultural contexts can help increase safety for victims and survivors. Culturally appropriate approaches also play an important role in rehabilitative supports for perpetrators and preventing reoccurring violence.

The action plan will help meet the unique and diverse needs of survivors, their families and communities in Ontario. Initiatives under the plan will support organizations offering Indigenous-specific and other culturally responsive services, increase targeted supports for newcomer, immigrant and Francophone communities, and enhance training for professionals on culturally appropriate care.


An Ontario free of gender-based violence.

Framework for action

Key actions under 5 pillars will help to focus, align and strengthen Ontario’s social services response to addressing gender-based violence.

  1. Support stabilization of critical programs
  2. Prevent gender-based violence
  3. Improve transitions to recovery
  4. Support safety and reduce recurrence
  5. Promote economic security

Support stabilization of critical programs

The Government of Ontario is working to address immediate service system challenges in existing crisis-response programs.

Goal: Support stabilization of critical gender-based violence programs and continuous service improvements to help at risk women and children

Key actions to help reach the goal:

  • Invest in gender-based violence service providers to strengthen the foundation for critical programs and services and ease immediate service delivery pressures, including staffing and operational challenges.
  • To support professionals to identify people at risk of gender-based violence and help prevent the escalation of violence, develop risk assessment and information sharing guidelines for professionals across sectors.
  • To ensure people experiencing gender-based violence can reach help when they need it, no matter where they live in the province, invest in Ontario’s gender-based violence crisis and victim support lines and support ongoing efforts to build a more responsive, sustainable crisis lines system.
  • To improve access to prevention and early intervention supports for children and youth who have experienced family violence and to crisis and community supports for survivors in rural and remote communities, funding for Children and Youth Services and Supports and Rural and Remote Services and Supports will be annualized beginning in 2024–25.
  • Enhance collaboration and coordination across sectors, such as violence against women and child protection services, by implementing violence against women service improvements including updates to shelter standards and procedures to better support women in crisis situations and connect them with supports.
  • To help support victims and survivors of intimate partner violence/domestic violence, human trafficking, and child exploitation, invest more than $4 million in 2023–24 in 45 projects through the Victim Support Grant program. The 2023–24 grant cycle will provide police services with the flexibility needed to adapt to their own community’s needs and to respond to the unique needs of victims and survivors.
  • To help enhance the capacity of First Nations police services to provide specialized, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive policing throughout intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking investigations, provide more than $5 million in 2023–24 for The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Fund grant.

Prevent gender-based violence

Effective prevention requires collaboration across sectors and building service provider capacity to understand, recognize and respond to gender-based violence and the needs of survivors and their children.

Goal: Expand prevention programs and introduce innovative practices to help stop gender-based violence before it occurs

Key actions to help reach the goal:

  • Launch community Call for Proposals to prototype and expand innovative, gender-based violence prevention programs that respond to local and community-specific need. Initiatives will be focused on:
    • early intervention (including in the child welfare system)
    • community planning and service integration to increase community safety and capacity to respond to intimate partner violence
    • Indigenous-led approaches and culturally responsive and safe services for newcomers and other diverse communities
    • education, training and awareness for children, youth, men and boys
    • targeted training for professionals across sectors on providing culturally responsive and trauma-informed services and referrals (e.g., members of the judiciary, children’s aid societies, hospitals, community services)
    • women’s economic empowerment initiatives
  • Continue educational opportunities in elementary and secondary school on learning and developing skills for healthy relationships, including school-based resources.
  • Continue mandatory learning in every grade about building healthy relationships, personal safety and injury prevention. Students learn about what consent looks like and how to recognize exploitative behaviours, stand up for themselves and others, and get help if they feel uncomfortable, confused, or unsafe.

Improve transitions to recovery

A network of connected social services is essential to support survivors in leaving and recovering from violent and abusive situations.

Goal: Improve access to housing, child care, and mental health and addiction supports to aid survivors in their recovery and long-term stability

Key actions to help reach the goal:

  • In consultation with stakeholders and partners, Ontario is developing a guide to support Service Managers who administer the Special Priority Policy in relation to social housing and service providers who work with survivors of abuse and trafficking. The guide will include information on the Special Priority Policy rules, the lived experiences of survivors and available supports and services, and training opportunities for Service Managers and service providers.
  • In 2023–24, the province is committed to cost-matching an additional $11.5 million in federal funding in 2023–24 under the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) program that the province delivers to provide direct financial assistance to survivors of gender-based violence to help with paying rent.
  • Encourage Service Managers and Indigenous Program Administrators to better support survivors based on local community need and housing and homelessness resources.
  • Explore opportunities to enhance access to child care fee subsidies for survivors of gender-based violence.
  • Update the Child Care and EarlyON Child and Family Centres Service Management and Funding Guidelines to encourage EarlyON centres to share information and facilitate connections with specialized community services (such as children’s rehabilitation services and gender-based violence support for families), coordinated service planning, public health, education, child care, and child welfare, as appropriate.
  • Beginning in 2024–25, provide annualized enhancement funding to Transitional and Housing Support Program (THSP) providers. This will help survivors of intimate partner violence and human trafficking optimize housing benefits and supports, access safe and affordable housing, and benefit from the services they need to rebuild their lives.
  • Increase access to mental health and counseling services for survivors through the $1.5 million allocated under Roadmap to Wellness.
  • Assess options to improve access to independent legal advice for sexual assault survivors.

Support safety and reduce recurrence

Ontario is committed to keeping people at risk of gender-based violence safe and holding perpetrators accountable to stop reoccurring violence.

Goal: Increase safety and provide rehabilitative supports for perpetrators to hold them accountable and reduce recurrence

Key actions to help reach the goal:

  • Introduce and expand culturally responsive programs, including Indigenous-led programs, that help improve parenting and raise awareness and understanding among men on the root causes of gender-based violence.
  • Expand early intervention services for men and boys to help prevent and mitigate the escalation of gender-based violence.
  • The Ministry of the Attorney General will work with Partner Assault Response service delivery partners to explore opportunities to introduce program improvements so that programming is more flexible and responsive to individualized client needs.
  • Support the proposed legislative amendments led by the federal government to Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bail reform) to improve the bail system and public safety.
  • Continue to support Ontario’s Justice Centres. With four sites operating in London, Toronto Northwest, Toronto Downtown East, and Kenora, these innovative community courts bring together justice, health, and social services to address the root causes of crime, break the cycle of offending and improve community safety.
Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin

Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin is Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway language) for “I am a kind man”. It was developed by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) to address violence in Indigenous communities and foster overall community wellness. The program engages Indigenous self-identifying men and youth by raising awareness and an understanding of the causes of violence against women, girls and Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, plus (2SLGBTQQIA+) people. Through public awareness campaigns and community-based programs delivered at 26 sites across Ontario, Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin is designed to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people by increasing Indigenous men’s understanding of their traditional roles and responsibilities in ending violence, promoting resiliency and resolving trauma.

Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin is one example of how Friendship Centres in Ontario are leading the way in taking culturally responsive approaches to address gender-based violence.

Promote economic security

Many survivors of gender-based violence are financially dependent on their perpetrators or may experience financial abuse. Economic security can support the prevention of gender-based violence and help survivors when leaving dangerous situations.

Goal: Promote economic security and independence for survivors to help prevent gender-based violence and support recovery

Key actions to help reach the goal:

  • Expand the Women’s Economic Security Program to provide employment, pre-apprenticeship and entrepreneurship training for more low-income women, women at-risk of or who have experienced gender-based violence.
  • Expand the Investing in Women’s Futures (IWF) program by adding one Francophone site to increase access to employment and training supports for Francophone women who are at-risk of or who have experienced gender-based violence.
  • Increase women’s economic opportunities and remove barriers for women entrepreneurs and women working in sectors vital to Ontario’s economy such as the skilled trades and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
  • Support an economic forum, hosted by Ontario Native Women’s Association, to support Indigenous women’s financial well-being. A range of potential topics include supports for starting a business and self-employment, learning about the labour market and new career fields, and growing local community economies through collectives and financial literacy.
  • Continue investments through the Indigenous Targeted Initiatives Fund for innovative projects that expand access to postsecondary education and training for Indigenous learners, including for women and victims of violence, to support a transition to employment and broader economic well-being.

Moving forward

With this action plan, Ontario is continuing the important work to address gender-based violence across the province. Ontario-STANDS will help build a more coordinated system focused on prevention that stops cycles of violence and provides better access to local, community-led and culturally responsive services in addition to supporting survivors. The plan will increase the availability of services and supports that respond to the healing and longer-term needs of survivors, their children and families. We will work with provincial and federal government partners to monitor progress against the goals of the action plan and in reducing gender-based violence.

Moving forward, Ontario is committed to working closely with Indigenous partners, the federal government, municipalities, local communities and sector stakeholders to implement the action plan. Together we will create an Ontario that is free of gender-based violence and ensures safety and opportunity for all.