There’s money for everyone in Quebec in the run-up to an election, it appears. Everyone except the 100 womens’ shelters in Quebec. Though studies have found them to be severly underfunded, they share a budget of $29 million.
Last week, the Quebec government handed out $556 million to front line services, including Local Employment Centres (CLEs), Client Contact Centres (CCEs), local health clinics (CLSCs) and retirement homes, but failed to provide more funding for women’s shelters. This week the Association of Quebec Women’s Shelters announced a work slowdown that will see their members provide only emergency and crisis intervention services.
This means that women in need will not be accompanied to their medical or legal appointments, there will be no assessments of abuse situations and no violence prevention programs will be conducted. The slowdown is aimed at getting another $31 million from the provincial government to ensure that the services needed are available.
The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal will be open for business, however. No work slowdowns are planned. They are not part of the Association of Women’s Shelters of Quebec, though they are provincially funded.
The shelter provides 16 beds for native women in Montreal as well as offering a culture-specific healing program called “Moving towards the 7th Generation.” Through this program they are able to offer a plethora of different workshops from anger management to parenting workshops to one-on-one therapy. The funding for this is received from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. The shelter is always full and has to refuse women on a daily basis, referring them to other shelters in Montreal that do not have the necessary funds to meet their needs.
Says Thelma Nelson, Interim Executive director at the shelter: “We only have one native women’s shelter, if we had five shelters and more beds then maybe we could participate in a slowdown. We won’t participate in a slowdown unless our board decides that we should. Personally, as a native woman, I couldn’t do that, our women need these services.”