Alberta is spending $15 million to bolster programs that support women and children affected by family violence.
The money is to improve services in emergency and second-stage shelters and to hire 124 outreach workers and youth counsellors, Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir said September 23, 2015.
“Nobody has to live in fear. Nobody should be subject to violence,” Sabir said in an interview.
“When those unfortunate incidents happen, it is the role and responsibility of the government to provide people a way out of that tragedy, to provide people with the support they need to deal with the violence.”
Last fall, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters issued a report that said 8,427 women and 8,012 children were turned away from shelters due to lack of space.
The report said during the same time period _ the fiscal year 2013-2014 _ the shelters admitted 5,710 women and 5,612 children.
Jan Reimer, the council’s executive director, said the new money will improve the overall effectiveness of shelters and reduce the number of women and children who are turned away due to lack of space.
She called it the most significant funding increase shelters have had from the provincial government in about 10 years.
“I think this is a huge change and a big step forward,” Reimer said.
“Having sufficient funds to manage the program will make a huge difference and I think will help more women to be served.”
Reimer said the increase will mean second-stage shelters that provide apartments for woman and children as they transition to living more normal lives will now have secure funding.
Women and kids who move to the secondary units free up space in emergency shelters.
The new outreach and youth counsellors will mean that children of women who flee family violence will get the help they need, added Reimer.
“To be able to work with the children and to deal with their traumas can have a health impact for the rest of their lives.”
The council represents 42 shelter organizations in the province.