Victims of sexual assault seeking medical services at the Montreal Sexual Assault Center will have to wait for hours to receive them, at least this week and until next week.
The center, located downtown near the Guy-Concordia metro station, is one of two in the city that provides medical and social support for victims of sexual assault who are 18 years of age and older.
Earlier, during working hours, from Monday to Friday, doctors from the nearby CLSC Metro were available to see the victims of the attack.
But now the local health authority, the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’le-de-Montreal, is restructuring the way medical services are offered, and for a short time victims will have to see a doctor elsewhere.
“All victims of sexual assault continue to be seen in a timely manner and will receive care, including swabs, forensic exams, and psychosocial support,” CIUSSS spokesman Barry Morgan said in an email.
“Any changes will be notified as and when required. Access to services will be ensured for all victims.”
Debbie Trent, director of the Montreal Sexual Assault Center, said those who come in will face daytime delays, but counselors will look after them, and a medical professional will see them within 24 hours.
“He may have to be seen in the hospital. But we will see him. We will take care of him,” Trent said.
Still, a front-line staff member at the center is concerned that victims will fall through the cracks.
They said they are concerned that survivors of sexual assault are losing their services and resources at a time when they are most needed.
They are also worried about the forensic evidence being lost as there is no doctor available to conduct the examination in time.
Cassandra Richards is a criminal defense attorney who conducts research on sexual violence at McGill University.
He said that the decision to go to the clinic for a medical check-up after sexual assault is a difficult one and for those who want it, timely medical check-up is essential.
“It’s important that they get treated and seen right away, because they’ve decided to go for one, and you don’t want that person to turn around and decide they don’t want to be seen anymore,” Richards said.