In devastating episodes of domestic violence, 10 women have died since January in Quebec. In an attempt to address the issue, Quebec’s public security minister Genevieve Guilbault and Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible for women, will be making some announcements on Friday.
Melpa Kamateros, Montreal’s Shield of Athena Shelter director has been exceptionally concerned by the province’s new budget that also has received widespread criticism.
“We’re on our hands and knees. Whatever they give us, we’ll take.”
The safe houses in Quebec have been asking for long-term thinking in the provincial budget allocation. Last month’s allotment was so small, Kamateros is hoping for no more.
Kamateros hopes the Friday announcement would be about more space in shelters. She adds that instead of additional aid, she is expecting something else more life-changing.
The new budget included $22.5 million for women’s shelter spaces for over five years. Manon Masse, Quebec Solidaire co-leader termed the allocation as an insult.
“If the government can put billion dollars to connect to the internet, I’m sure it could have put more than that for women.”
This year’s cases of murder are shocking and Kamateros is certain that COVID-19 has heightened the risks for women to be in a violent relationship.
Shelters are struggling with capacity problems. In the past, women could be squeezed into a facility even when they were full. Even before the pandemic, Quebec women were in dire need of government help.
Kamateros insist that what is needed now is emergency funding that needs to go to women who want to leave their violent households. The funds will help them access things such as taxis and shelters.
“The whole issue of conjugal violence has been minimized.”
She also noted that the perceptions that fuel gender-based violence are not changing. Younger women are still being admitted to the shelter.