Full Alberta shelters turning away abused women

Wednesday, December 14 2011

The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters says more and more abused women are being turned away in the province, a trend being called the dark side of the economic boom.

According to the council, more than 13,000 women and children used shelters in 2006, but another 16,000 had to be turned away because the shelters were full — a 16 per cent increase over the year before.

Meanwhile, Alberta's shelters received nearly 100,000 crisis calls in 2006, a nearly 50 per cent increase over the last two years. Women who recently moved to the province don't have any contacts or support when they find themselves in need, said Jan Reimer, the council's spokeswoman.

Also, Alberta has one of the lowest rates of social assistance in Canada, putting abused women at a further disadvantage, she said. "Where are women going to go? How are they going to support themselves?" she asked. "I think we're seeing in Alberta the social services sector itself being stretched. So early intervention programs can't kick in soon enough because those supports and resources aren't there."

Even women who are able to use the shelters say the lack of options send them back to abusive partners, according to the association. Of the 15 per cent of women who said they returned to their previous relationship, 75 per cent blamed lack of affordable housing, a nearly 50 per cent increase over 2005 data.


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