Ottawa, 25 September 2019

Today, Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) released “Transitioning to a Life Free from Violence: Second Stage Shelters in Canada.” This new report illustrates the important work that second stage shelters do in helping women and children transition to lives free from violence. Yet, the vast majority are doing so under increasing financial pressure.

“The timing of this report’s release is especially crucial in the lead up to the federal election next month,” said Lise Martin, executive director of Women’s Shelters Canada. “Violence against women is a non-partisan issue; every political party should address VAW in their platforms. We urge all federal parties to commit to a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women.”

Second stage shelters provide longer-term accommodation to women who require continued support and safety. In the context of the affordable housing crisis in Canada, these shelters bridge the housing gap while also providing women with more time to heal from trauma, access supportive counsellors, and develop community, while also offering protection for survivors who are at a heightened risk of violence.

In Canada, a woman is killed every 2.5 days, with over half killed by a current or former intimate partner. “Second stage shelters provide lifesaving services to women and children fleeing violence,” said Gaëlle Fedida, Board member of WSC and Provincial Coordinator of L’Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale. “In Quebec, we evaluate the risk of post-separation homicide in order to deliver the appropriate range of services.”

However, second stage shelters are not funded adequately to do this life-saving work. The vast majority (80%) indicated that insufficient funding was a “major challenge.” In Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador, second stage shelters receive no provincial government funding. There are no second stage shelters in Nunavut, an area of the country that has the highest rates of violence against women and one of the greatest housing shortages. There is also a lack of second stage shelters and supports in rural areas, as well as a lack of Indigenous second stage shelters on and off First Nations reserves.

This report is based on data from WSC’s 2017-2018 survey, the first national inquiry of its kind developed by and for the VAW shelter sector. Overall, 401 VAW and second stage shelters participated, a response rate of over 78%, and included responses from every province and territory as well as from rural, remote, Northern, and Indigenous shelters.


For media enquiries, contact:
Kaitlin Bardswich, Communications and Development Coordinator
613.680.5119 /

Women’s Shelters Canada brings together 14 provincial and territorial shelter organizations. We work as a unified voice to collaborate, educate, and innovate for systemic change that ends violence against women, making Canada a model for safety in the world.