With funding situation dire, leader of women's shelters federation 'optimistic' message has been heard

A staff member carries bedding in one of the suites at Toronto's Interval House, an emergency shelter for women in abusive situations, on Monday February 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Days before the province’s budget for the coming year is unveiled, the leader of Quebec Federation of Women’s Shelters said she is "rather optimistic" that her cry for help has been heard.

Manon Monastesse said 15,000 requests for accommodations were denied due to a lack of space or budget last year, with a further 9,800 being turned away the year before.

Monastesse said those numbers are only for the 36 shelters represented by her federation, noting there are numerous other facilities throughout the province who are dealing with the same issues.  

She estimated that $44 million would be needed to make up the shortfall in the shelters she represents as budget issues are forcing the cutting of jobs and beds. Outpatient services are also suffering due to a situation that Monastesse characterized as "critical."

She said meetings with Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Isabelle Charest and Justice Minister Sonia Lebel have left her optimistic that her message has been heard by the Legault administration.

On Sunday a collection of women’s advocacy groups called for the funding of 50,000 new social housing units in the budget, saying the current shortage has placed vulnerable women’s lives at risk.