Support needed for second stage shelters in Canada says study by Women's Shelters Canada

The study found that, similar to women’s shelters, a lack of comprehensive and sustainable funding is a major challenge. Many of the shelters have to fundraise to cover the cost of operations and salaries.

Ottawa (02 Oct. 2020) — Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) has conducted a study on second stage shelters. The study, the first of its kind in Canada, heard from executive directors, frontline workers, and current and former residents of second stage shelters.

Second stage shelters provide survivors supportive housing giving them additional time and space to heal and to rebuild their lives. These shelters help to break the cycle of abuse and help to bridge the housing gap. They provide expertise in gender-based violence, survivor-centred programming, counselling, housing-related support, and safety planning. On average survivors spend 10 months in second stage shelters. There are over 124 second stage shelters in Canada.

Lack of comprehensive and sustainable funding a major challenge

The results of the study have been released in a report entitled Breaking the Cycle of Abuse and Closing the Housing Gap:  Second Stage Shelters in Canada. The study found that, similar to women’s shelters, a lack of comprehensive and sustainable funding is a major challenge. Many of the shelters have to fundraise to cover the cost of operations and salaries. This lack of sustainable funding results in wages being low, high turnovers of staff and difficulties in recruitment.

Number of second stage shelters needs to be increased across Canada 

The report stresses the need for the number of second stage shelters to be increased across Canada. There is a higher need to increase shelters in rural, remote and northern communities where there is a critical affordable housing shortage, barriers to local fundraising and fewer opportunities to partner with housing organizations. The need in Indigenous communities is even higher. Even though Indigenous women and girls face higher rates of domestic violence there are very few second stage shelters and only 2 exist on First Nation Reserves.

The report also recommends that there must be an immediate increase in social and affordable housing units with direct allocation of housing to survivors of domestic violence. 

NUPGE's paper includes recommendation to ensure appropriate funding and resources

The National Union of Public and General Employees, working with its Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues, continues to advocate for the need to end domestic violence and to support the services that assist survivors to escape this violence. NUPGE's recently released paper, Domestic Violence and the Workplace: How Non-Canadian Jurisdictions have Implemented Workplace Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence, illustrates potential policy options and bests practices. Included in the recommendations is the need to ensure appropriate funding and resources for shelters and transition houses, as well as for mental health services, legal aid, affordable housing, income supports, child care, and other community-based supports, to stop the cycle of violence.


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE