Help provide refuge for women and children in Alberta with nowhere else to turn

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A major issue we have identified regarding assault in Canada is that many women’s shelters are at full capacity, and the preexisting ones do not have the proper resources to provide for those in need, resulting in the rejection of women and children who have nowhere else to go. On one typical day in 2016, 416 women and children across Canada sought shelter to escape violence. Of that total, however, shelters were forced to turn away 73 percent of those in need due to a lack of resources and capacity. Although Toronto does not seem to have this problem, statistics show that Alberta does.

Crisis calls to women’s shelters in Alberta have jumped 10 per cent since 2015-16, while the number of women, children and seniors sheltered last year is up on the previous 12 months.

A report, produced by the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, says that “the rising demand for services has taken many shelters beyond full capacity” and that “women using shelter services are facing the highest level of danger in seven years.”

“Any rise in the numbers of women facing severe or extreme danger of being murdered by their intimate partner is extremely worrying,” Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters executive director Jan Reimer said in a statement.

“We urgently need to address this issue as a society through ensuring shelters have the resources to support women through the provision of accommodation, safety planning, and community outreach."

In 2011-12, around 54 per cent of women faced severe or extreme danger but in 2017-18 that number climbed to close to 65 percent. The number of people turned away because of a lack of capacity in 2017-18 rose to 16,722 from the previous year’s 14,497. In 2015-16 that number was 16,532.

In 2015-16 the number of crisis calls to shelters climbed from 52,562 to 58,117 in 2017-18. Close to 10,400 women, children and seniors found accommodation in shelters in 2017-18, which is up from 10,030 in 2016-17 but down from 10,567 in 2015-16.

If we want to prevent this ongoing crisis in violence and abuse from drowning the future generations, we need to increase our investment significantly, knowing that it will pay off in the long-term.