London NDP MPPs call on province to ease Anova's funding crunch
3 MPPs call on province to step in and help London agency that operates 2 shelters for abused women
Three London NDP MPPs are calling on the Ontario government to help fund a London women's shelter that last week announced the elimination of a staff position due to funding constraints, amid a rising demand for service.
The three MPPs — Teresa Armstrong (London-Fanshawe), Terence Kernaghan (London North Centre) and Peggy Sattler (London West) — have signed a joint letter accusing the province of "putting the lives of women and children at risk" by failing to respond after Anova went public last week about the need to axe a staff position.
"We urge you to commit to the ongoing stable funding necessary for Anova to meet the needs of growing numbers of Londoners dealing with the physical and emotional trauma of gender-based violence," the letter says.
The letter is addressed to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Lisa MacLeod, minister of social services and minister responsible for women's issues.
Anova provides support, shelter and counselling for abused women and their children.
Shelter faces funding pressure
On Dec. 4, Anova announced that funding pressures and an increase in shelter use had forced them to no longer dedicate a staff position to client intake at their Wellington Road counselling centre. Anova also operates a shelter on Clarke Road.
Anova executive Jessie Rodger told CBC News that staff were struggling to balance service requests from people coming to the door, with serving the needs of clients already in the shelter.
Rodger said clients who come to the door would not be ignored, but may be referred to other service agencies or be asked to return another time.
Rodger said client needs are becoming more complex and the shelter stays are getting longer in London's increasingly tight rental market.
Last year Anova shelters assisted more than 800 women.
A statement sent to CBC News by staff in Lisa MacLeod's ministry says the province has increased funding to more than 400 service partners across the province by $11.5 million this year, including an increase of $138,000 for Anova "so those on the front-line can continue providing vital residential counselling, and children's programs."
The statement goes on to say: "We will continue to support local service providers with the appropriate resources so women and girls can live free from violence across the province."
Roger said the funding increase came in May of this year, one month before the Liberal government was defeated in the June election.
She told CBC News that while the increase was helpful "it's still not enough to meet the needs of this community."