Quebec allocates $2.5M in emergency funds for women's shelters amid COVID-19 crisis
Cash will cover accommodation and transportation costs as COVID-19 pandemic puts pressure on services
The Quebec government is providing $2.5 million in emergency funding to women's shelters and women's assistance organizations to help them deal with the complexities imposed by the coronavirus crisis.
The funds will go toward transportation and accommodation costs, and to cover overtime being worked.
"The current health crisis and the isolation measures imposed by the government are exposing more women than ever to situations of violence," Isabelle Charest, Quebec's minister responsible for the status of women, said in a statement.
"This emergency aid was therefore necessary."
The organizations, which provide assistance and refuge to women in abusive relationships, face various difficulties as they deliver their services in the COVID-19 era. Face-to-face meetings no longer happen. Many shelters are at or near capacity and under quarantine, making it difficult or impossible to open new spots.
Any additional money is going to be helpful for organizations that are perennially stretched to their limits, said Melpa Kamateros, the executive director of Shield of Athena, a Montreal emergency shelter for immigrant women.
"How far is it going to go? I don't know," she said.
If the funding goes to hotel accommodation for women who are seeking help, either for a quarantine phase or thereafter because of the high occupancy of most shelters, there would also need to be funding for security guards, Kamateros said. "They have to be protected."
Restrictions on outings because of the pandemic mean women considering leaving an abusive partner are stuck in close quarters, putting them under additional stress.
"The usual things that are problematic with conjugal violence are magnified a thousand times over during a pandemic," Kamateros said.