News / Edmonton

Alberta women's shelters welcome new federal funding

Federal budget promises almost $90 million to shelters across the country

Jan Reimer is the executive director of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters.


Jan Reimer is the executive director of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters.

The head of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters says the additional money announced for shelters in the federal budget could mean a much-needed update to aging facilities.

Last week’s budget promised $89.9 million over two years for the construction and renovation of facilities for victims of domestic violence.

ACWS executive director Jan Reimer says it’s not yet known how the money will be distributed across the country, but adds the money is welcome as the first influx of federal funding in years.

“The shelters here are really showing their age, just imagine the wear and tear that happens after several decades of usage, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Reimer said.

Shelters have traditionally gotten their operational funding through a combination of provincial funding and fundraising, but have relied on federal funding for capital dollars, Reimer said.

But that federal funding had largely “disappeared” in recent years, she said.

Not only are buildings in serious need of repair, but thinking has changed in terms of how modern facilities should be set up.

“We’ve learned a lot over the decades about how to serve and meet the needs of women and children,” she said, “we’ve learned what really is needed in terms of specialized play spaces for children, longer term accommodation and transitional housing for women.”

She adds that in Alberta a growing population has outstripped funding, putting extra pressure on the shelter system.

“Whether its boom or bust abuse doesn’t stop.”

Data collected from April 2014 to March 2015 found that Council shelters accommodated over 5,000 women and almost that many children.

During that same time frame over 9,000 women and almost 10,000 children were turned away due to a lack of capacity.

More on