Quebec’s “Inadequate” Funding Forces Halt to Shelter Projects

    Quebec’s “Inadequate” Funding Forces Halt to Shelter Projects

    In a passionate appeal, Louise Riendeau, representing the Coalition of Shelters for Women Victims of Domestic Violence, alongside Maud Pontel from the Alliance of Shelters for Women and Children Victims of Domestic Violence — an alliance that includes the Parc-Extension organization, Shield of Athena, as a member — are urging for immediate action. Confronted with significant financial hurdles that have brought to a standstill projects aimed at increasing shelter capacities, they are making a plea to Quebec Premier François Legault to organize a gathering of all governmental stakeholders responsible for funding their projects. The ultimate aim of this request is to create a specialized program tailored to meet their unique requirements comprehensively and conclusively.

    Associations of shelters for women and children victims of domestic violence are seeking François Legault’s intervention to resolve a financial deadlock and create a new, more suitable program. They criticize the current funding program for failing to consider several critical needs, which has led to the halt of projects that would add hundreds of shelter spaces. There is also a fear that funding provided by Ottawa could be withdrawn if the issues are not resolved promptly.

    The representatives from the Alliance MH2, the Coalition, and the Federation of Women’s Shelters have labeled the financing for the addition of new spaces, which is part of the social housing program in partnership with the Société d’habitation du Québec, as “inadequate, illogical, and incomprehensible.”

    These associations had already voiced their concerns last December about the funding program partly excluding the calculation of costs associated with essential space arrangements in the shelters. This includes private intervention rooms, shared kitchens, and extensive security measures. They warned that over 200 spaces for women and children at high risk of being killed in a domestic violence context might never be created due to these oversights.

    Three months later, they believe the inadequately adapted program now endangers the creation of 68 new places in first-stage shelters (addressing emergency needs) and 568 new places in second-stage shelters (for women still facing significant security issues upon leaving an emergency refuge), totaling 630 new places at risk.

    Louise Riendeau describes the current situation as a “vicious circle,” where the health network’s anticipated projects to meet the needs of women and children victims of domestic violence cannot progress due to financing issues. Maud Pontel also highlights the concern over financial arrangements for halted projects, especially as the demand for these shelters remains high, with occupancy rates exceeding 100% in some regions.

    The precarious situation is further compounded by private donors withdrawing their support, discouraged by the prolonged wait and lack of progress on the projects. This, in turn, jeopardizes the very existence of the aid and shelter houses that have embarked on these projects, some of which are now burdened with mortgage interest payments, architectural fees, and land decontamination costs without any advancement in their projects.

    The representatives remind that the government had previously shown support by voting in favor of a motion to resolve administrative difficulties and expedite the creation of these spaces. They also recall the government’s acknowledgment of the necessity for these new places, evidenced by the allocation of $220 million in 2021 to combat domestic violence.

    With the International Women’s Day and the upcoming Quebec budget announcement around the corner, these shelter associations hold onto hope that Premier Legault will heed their call for action and support.