More funding is going to help rehabilitate men and women charged with buying sex in Grande Prairie. PACE Executive Director Jacquie Aitken says a recent $37,100 provincial grant will fund education and rehabilitation programs currently going on at the centre.

“The money is going to help the projects ongoing because the issue is ongoing… It will go towards the John School program and also be used to bring awareness to the community around sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.”

The one-day “John School” course was started last November and is taught by a team of experts like police, therapists and lawyers. It’s an alternative to the criminal justice system for people who have been charged with solicitation offences for the first time. The option isn’t available to repeat offenders.

The program was launched after 35 people were arrested in a four-day investigation into sex trade activities downtown. PACE has run two full-day workshops so far and Aitken says that they have had around 28 men participate in the “John” part of the program.

“It’s going really well for a new program. Some of the feedback we’re getting from participants is that they should have had information like this earlier in their life.”

PACE hopes to put some of the grant money towards running at least four John School workshops a year in the future. It comes from the Status of Women Community Grant Program, which is in its second year.