MISE & Agrave; DAY
Shelters for women victims of domestic violence fear a breakdown in service due to growing demand and the spread of the Omicron variant among female workers.
< p>“Our main challenge is to keep our services in the current state of wave 5. […] We are starting to have serious problems simply being able to have workers available. If the situation continues, we will be out of service. It's a matter of life and death, “fears Ms. Monastesse, director general of the Federation of women's shelters (FMHF).
After a year when feminicides have reached an ever-high level seen since 2008, with 26 women murdered, the very marked increase in demand, especially for accommodation, makes Claudine Thibaudeau of SOS violence conjugale fear the worst.
“Last year, from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 was already a more than record year with 41,000 requests. […] That represents approximately 112 requests per day. But there, between January 1 and January 6, 2022, we have an average of 184 requests per day ”, she warns.
File photo Manon Monastesse
As everywhere, the Omicron variant is spreading and more and more workers in shelters for women victims of domestic violence are falling ill or are awaiting screening.
“What is difficult for us is that it is already difficult to find accommodation in normal times. Usually we can't find accommodation for 30% -35% of the requests we receive, but at the moment it's 50% and it's really dramatic, ”says Ms. Thibaudeau, who recalls that the requests for accommodation is often the last way out for some victims of violence.
According to Manon Monastesse, the situation is becoming more and more worrying. Some houses have lost up to 70% of their workers, she says.
On the side of the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victims of conjugal violence (RMFVVC), the story is the same.
“We have a lot of houses that are not yet out of service, but the situation is very fragile. With more workers absent, it could be difficult ”fears the co-responsible for the organization's political files, Louise Riendeau.
This which also considerably complicates things is that the shelters do not all have access to PCR screening tests or rapid tests, although they are part of the essential services, deplore Mmes Monastesse and Riendeau.
“Since the start of the pandemic, the response of the CISSS, CIUSSS and Public Health has varied from one region to another. I have regions where efforts are being made to provide tests, but others where it is outright radio silence, “argues the director of the FMHF.
Just before the holidays, the RMFVVC had asked the Department of Health and Social Services (MSSS) to ensure that workers in all shelters could have access to PCR and rapid screenings or even N95 masks. The MSSS reportedly replied that the homes should contact their CIUSSS and CISSS directly, which do not all respond to requests.
“Shelters are a bit like family homes then it is difficult if there are infected people to be completely isolated. That's why we need effective protection measures, ”implores Ms. Riendeau.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact SOS Violence conjugale at 1 800 363-9010 or consult the https://sosviolenceconjugale.ca/fr