Since March 13, the staff of Women’s Shelters Canada has been working hard – from home. We are fortunate that we are able to work from home to support the frontline workers keeping women and children safe in VAW shelters and transition houses across the country.
Domestic violence and femicides don’t stop during a global pandemic. If anything, they increase, as we’ve seen in reports from around the world. Now, not only are shelter staff keeping women and children safe from violence, they’re also working to keep them – and themselves – healthy.
Here at WSC, we are working to support VAW shelters and transition houses in several different ways. We’ve been sharing resources and connecting shelters across the country during this rapidly evolving situation. For example, we’ve set up a dedicated web page, a Google document compiling sample practices from across the country, a private Facebook group for shelter staff, and we’re working on some webinars. We are connecting the provincial and territorial associations to each other on a weekly basis to stay informed about emerging challenges and responses across the country and facilitate sharing of information at this level. And we’ve been working with national corporations and NGOs, such as Food Banks Canada, to ensure that women’s shelters can access the food and resources they need right now.
A large part of our behind-the-scenes work over the past few weeks has involved working with the federal government to get emergency funds to VAW shelters and transition houses as quickly as possible. Prime Minister Trudeau referenced these funds during his daily address on Saturday, and a news release went out. We were then able to announce, in our own press release, that the Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) will be giving up to $26 million to WSC to distribute to VAW shelters and transition houses across the country. There are two exceptions: shelters funded by Indigenous Services Canada (whose emergency funds will be distributed directly by ISC) and those in Quebec (where work is underway on the implementation of this important initiative with the Government of Quebec).
We will be working this week to get eligible VAW shelters and transition houses across the country registered to quickly access these emergency funds. We know how important this life-saving work is.
We wish you all health and safety during this ever-changing time. We’re all in this together.
– the staff of Women’s Shelters Canada