Crisis lines in Canada will receive $30 million from Ottawa


Manitoba on Wednesday became the first province to sign on to a new federal funding plan for crisis hotlines that help victims of gender-based violence.

The province will receive up to $1 million over four years for crisis centers to do things like hire more staff and train more volunteers.

“We know that crisis helplines are a lifeline for women fleeing domestic violence,” said Marci Ien, Federal Minister for Women, Gender Equality and Youth.

“A quick connection to support and services can, and often is, the difference between life and death.”

Ayn Wilcox, chief executive of Klinic, a community center in Winnipeg that operates a 24-hour crisis line, said there had been an “alarming” increase in call volume since the start of the pandemic. of COVID-19.

“We’re also experiencing an increasing complexity of these calls, which means we need to spend more time with people, working,” Wilcox said.

The pandemic has also reduced the number of volunteers willing and able to staff Klinic’s phone lines, she added.

The funding is part of a national pledge of $30 million from the federal government first announced in the spring budget. Other provinces are in the process of signing similar agreements with Ottawa, Ien said.

A recent Statistics Canada report found that one in three shelters for people fleeing violence were greatly affected in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report looked at data from April 2021 and says there has been a 49% increase in the number of crisis calls compared to before the pandemic. Several shelters reported expanding their services to communicate with victims digitally, including via text.

The report, using data from 557 Canadian shelters, also indicates that 61% of facilities said they had reduced their number of beds to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

The money announced Wednesday will also help Manitoba continue to develop third-party reporting, which allows victims of sexual violence to anonymously report details of their case to police through a victim services agency.

The system allows victims to access support services and enables police to enter information into a national database that tracks violent offenders.

“(Klinic) is helping the province facilitate the implementation of third-party reporting, which has a significant impact on many survivors of sexual violence, who may not feel comfortable going directly to the forces order,” said Manitoba Families Minister Rochelle Squires.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 10, 2022