Government of Canada supports over 500 women’s shelters and sexual assault centres during the COVID-19 pandemic 

News release

May 16, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Women and Gender Equality Canada

The Government of Canada is supporting Canada’s most vulnerable people during these times of uncertainty. This includes taking critical measures and making new investments to support shelters that provide a safe space for women fleeing violence and their families, and to ensure the continuing resilience of organizations assisting survivors of sexual assault. On April 4, 2020 the Government of Canada announced up to $40 million through Women and Gender Equality Canada for women fleeing gender-based violence.

Today, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced that this funding has been disbursed to over 500 women’s shelters and sexual assault centres from coast to coast to coast.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s shelters and sexual assault centres across the country required support to manage demand, and these needs have increased significantly over the last few weeks. During these exceptional times, additional resources are needed so that organizations can continue to provide desperately needed support to some of Canada’s most vulnerable.

To meet these needs, the Government of Canada provided $20.54 million to Women’s Shelters Canada which has, to date, distributed funding to 422 violence against women shelters across Canada. Another $3 million was provided to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, which has, to date, provided funding to 89 sexual assault centres across the country. An additional $6.46 million was given directly to the Government of Quebec and is flowing to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres in the province.

The Government of Canada’s emergency funding ensures the continuity and sustainability of services provided by these organizations, supporting their efforts to adjust to the evolving needs of survivors, while facing sudden and unexpected changes to everyday operations. The many dedicated organizations supported by these investments include Inasmuch House in Hamilton, Ontario, which will keep crisis lines and emergency shelter services open to survivors, Miramichi Emergency Centre for Women in Miramichi, New Brunswick, which will adapt their shelter to accommodate self-isolation procedures, Saskatoon Interval House in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which will continue ensuring safe accommodations for families, and South Okanagan Women in Need Society in Penticton, British Columbia, which will purchase new equipment to connect remotely with survivors.

These and many other inspiring organizations supported by the Government of Canada have shown outstanding dedication, perseverance and creativity in their work of supporting survivors of violence in a difficult and unpredictable time. For a full list of organizations receiving funding, click here.


“If home isn’t a safe place for you to be, help is available. Organizations that provide a safe place for survivors of violence are open and ready to provide support and we are deeply grateful for their tireless work at this challenging time. The quick flow of these emergency funds will help ensure that these organizations have the resources they need to continue their lifesaving work. Our first phase of emergency COVID-19 measures has enabled over 420 shelters and 89 sexual assault organizations to stay open and operate with new COVID-safe measures in place. The next phase of our supports is underway.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.
Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

“Women and girls facing violence and poverty have been uniquely affected by the pandemic, and we must not overlook the fact that many of the existing inequalities and hardships have become magnified. The Government of Canada's investments are not only helping shelters and sexual assault centres keep their doors open, but are also empowering creative solutions in a time of uncertainty. Thanks to this funding, women and girls in need can continue relying on timely services which will save lives.”

Paulette Senior, President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Women’s Foundation

“A number of shelters and transition homes were struggling prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the numerous adaptations required to continue to provide services while meeting health and safety standards, they have demonstrated commitment and creativity. Having access to the federal emergency funds in a quick and efficient manner made a huge difference to shelters and transition houses, allowing them to continue to support the women and children fleeing violence. This funding, along with the dedicated work of counsellors and support workers, is making a real difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Canada.”

Lise Martin, Executive Director
Women’s Shelters Canada

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada is investing $157.5 million to address the needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness through the Reaching Home program. The funding will cover a variety of needs that can range from purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.

  • Indigenous Services Canada is currently distributing $10 million to its existing network of 46 shelters on First Nations reserves and in Yukon to support Indigenous women and children fleeing violence through the Family Violence Prevention Program.

  • Visit the Gender-Based Violence Knowledge Centre (KC) for access to timely and relevant information, evidence, resources and research in a single platform. The KC also provides a searchable database, which brings together existing data and evidence on content related to gender-based violence.

  • The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Shelter Enhancement Program On-Reserve offers financial assistance for repairs, rehabilitation, and improvements of existing shelters on-reserve for victims of domestic violence. It also provides for the acquisition or construction of new shelters and second-stage housing where needed.

  • In June 2017, Women and Gender Equality Canada announced the first-ever federal Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence. To date, the Government of Canada has invested over $200 million to prevent gender-based violence, support survivors and their families, and create more responsive legal and justice systems.

Associated links


Marie-Pier Baril
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

Media Relations
Women and Gender Equality Canada

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