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The Case for Support

As a result of our unique focus on the well-being of boys, men, and fathers, we have been given a window into the serious but under-explored and in some cases largely unknown issues, affecting a significant number of males and their families, and resulting in painful, often silent suffering. Every day, we hear from families looking for support, but that support is not available in Vancouver. 

We are excited to be in a position to build a full-time Canadian Centre for Men and Families in Vancouver, British Columbia. Our plan is to open a new facility, inspired by the successful Canadian Centre for Men and Families hubs, which have developed experience and expertise operating in Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. These facilities are thriving, demonstrating boys and men will seek out services when they are available.

Our services will be fully tailored to the needs of the communities in Vancouver. Working in partnership with other agencies, we can transform the delivery of services for boys, men and fathers in Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Area.

Our vision focuses on five critical areas. We commit to:

  1. Reducing suicide among men at risk through intervention programs that directly address barriers that men face in getting help;
  2. Empowering fathers undergoing separation or divorce through fathering groups that strengthen the father-child relationship, and also through legal clinics – while working to promote positive social attitudes towards fatherhood;
  3. Supporting men who are experiencing domestic abuse, in all its forms, while working with other agencies to improve services and their delivery for this population;
  4. Mentoring at-risk boys and young males to foster deeper engagement with family, school and community;
  5. Addressing men’s substance abuse with treatment strategies that have been proven effective.

In communities where we have established the Canadian Centre for Men and Families, these facilities have become a place of hope and transformation for boys, men and fathers, who come to us often when no other support is available. We are ready to bring first-of-their-kind programs to Vancouver. We have developed partnerships with agencies across Vancouver that are critical to our success. Through these collaborations and by aligning our programs to local priorities, we will make a major positive contribution to the lives of hundreds of families in our community.

The Need

Our project is important because in Vancouver as in many other places, it is very difficult for men to find the support they need. While there is always a challenge to provide health and social services adequate to the need in the community, health and social services geared to boys, men, and fathers are particularly underdeveloped. 

The programs we offer respond to a number of startling facts. 

Three quarters of all suicides in Canada are men. [1] 

Single father families are the fastest growing family form in Canada, yet in Vancouver there are virtually no services specifically built for fathers – especially in the context of separation, divorce or single parenting.

The 2014 General Social Survey on Family Violence of Statistics Canada states 418,000 men experienced domestic abuse within the preceding 5 years [2], which is about 28,000 Greater Vancouver men. Vancouver offers no shelters or crisis lines for abused men, and very few support services of any kind. 

The same 2014 General Social Survey concluded that, despite similar levels of victimization, male victims continue to be significantly less likely to have access to essential support services like counselling, crisis centres, victim services or domestic abuse shelters. Statistics Canada reported that male victims of spousal violence were four times less likely to receive formal support services from some sectors, and received no support at all from others. [2] This lack of support services has severe implications for men in need, their children and our communities. 

It should be noted that men of all ages experience relationship violence. A recent study conducted largely by UBC and SFU researchers report significantly higher rates of dating violence committed against boys as compared to girls. [3] 

The opioid crisis in Vancouver and across BC is largely a men’s health crisis. The proportion of fatalities from overdose is 85% men, according to a 2018 report from Fraser Health, one of the five regional health authorities within the British Columbia Ministry of Health. [4]  The BC government has now acknowledged the gendered aspect of the problem, as evidenced in their website. [5] However, the need is overwhelming and many more services are required that are effective at healing boys and men.

In BC, young men continue to lag behind young women in terms of high school graduation as well as postsecondary enrolment and graduation. Over the last three decades, postsecondary graduation rates have shifted from gender parity to an ever intensifying trend that now sees men 28% less likely to graduate from postsecondary institutions. [6] This lack of education has effects on the health outcomes of families and the economic wellbeing of communities.

Our Solution

Our Alberta and Ontario facilities demonstrate that boys, men, and fathers will engage in help-seeking behaviours when programs are made available to them. Those facilities quickly became a destination for dozens of external agencies – police, victim services, family mediation offices, homeless shelters, etc. – to make client referrals and to partner to develop improved ways of engaging in outreach to this population. 

The Canadian Centre for Men and Families Vancouver aims to create locations where men are free to discuss their issues and problems, to facilitate access to existing services, and to help in areas where services are lacking.

Helping boys and men to lead healthy lives and to address their problems in healthy ways results in healthier families and stronger communities.

We intend to establish a vibrant hub of programs and services, including 

  • individual counselling
  • peer and facilitated support groups
  • legal assistance clinics
  • father involvement programs
  • services for men who have experienced domestic abuse
  • mentorship program for male youth
  • Individual and group support to address addiction and substance abuse

In addition, we will inspire others in order to catalyze change across the social service and public policy sectors. We will provide workshops and training to partner agencies looking to develop or improve their own programs for boys and men. We will promote inclusivity and challenge unhelpful paradigms by advocating to policy makers, family court judges and professionals of all kinds, on behalf of boys and men. We will use social media, press engagement and advertising campaigns in the public square, to raise consciousness about life and death issues, like male suicide,  domestic violence and the importance of strong father-child relationships. We will conduct ongoing evaluation of our programs and seek to continually improve our work.

Expertise in the Field

Our national organization runs a full-time Canadian Centre for Men and Families facility in Toronto and has done so for over four years. More recent facilities have opened in Calgary, Ottawa, London and York Region. [7]

We have supported over 2500 families with services similar to the ones here proposed for Vancouver. Each of our Centres has experienced between 25-40% client growth per year of operation. Our Quality of Life client assessments, which are conducted at regular intervals, have demonstrated the effectiveness of our programs, while supporting the continued enhancement of our services. 

The curriculum, knowledge, and experiences gained from this work is readily adaptable for Vancouver.

Across Canada, the success of our Centres is demonstrated by the many social service agencies that routinely seek out our guidance as they improve their own programs to better support boys and men. Other agencies have recognised our unique ability to reach and support boys and men. We have benefitted from client referrals and invitations to host workshops from the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centres, and many shelters, police, and victim service agencies across Canada.

The Canadian Centre for Men and Families has been at the forefront of profound community change in terms of services, awareness and advocacy for boys, men and fathers. Nationally, we host an annual conference, Healing Journeys, which explores the intersection of men, trauma and mental health. The conference brings together survivors of abuse with professionals and service providers. We co-host this conference with prominent anti-abuse agencies The Gatehouse and the national Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness

In Ontario, we work as partners with Legal Aid Ontario as part of a special program for victims of domestic abuse to receive legal aid services. Similarly, we are partners with the City of Toronto’s affordable housing agency as part of their special program for domestic abuse victims. We have a partnership with the Fathers Mental Health Network, which allows us to provide free psychiatric services to fathers at various hospitals across the province.

Recently the Homelessness Partnering Strategies of the Government of Canada awarded us a major research grant to study male homelessness and domestic abuse.

In whichever community we establish the Canadian Centre for Men and Families, we become a vital community partner in efforts to address gaps in services for men and boys. 


[1] Statistics Canada. (2020). Suicide in Canada: Key Statistics, Government of Canada, 2020. Retrieved from

[2] Marta Burczycka. (2014). Trends in self-reported spousal violence in Canada. Statistics Canada. Retrieved from

[3] Shaffer, C.S., Adjei, J., Viljoen, J.L., Douglas, K.S., & Saewyc, E.M. (2018). Ten-Year Trends in Physical Dating Violence Victimization Among Adolescent Boys and Girls in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

[4] Fraser Health. (2018). The Hidden Epidemic: The Opioid Overdose Emergency in Fraser Health. Retrieved from

[5] British Columbia Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction. (2018). Why Are So Many Men Dying of Overdose? Retrieved from

[6] Statistics Canada. (2017). Postsecondary graduates, by field of study, International Standard Classification of Education, age group and gender. Retrieved from

[7] Canadian Centre for Men and Families. (2020). Canadian Centre for Men and Families homepage. Retrieved from


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