Cancelling Greyhound services in the prairies and B.C. will have, “potentially devastating impacts” for women fleeing domestic violence, according to a B.C. women’s shelter operator.
“When you consider the Highway of Tears and the danger to women of hitchhiking etc., this really just adds to the worry,” Kelowna Women’s Shelter executive director Karen Mason said.
Mason said they sometimes pay bus fare for women seeking help to flee abusive relationships. Sometimes they need to come to the Kelowna shelter from a rural community.
Other times, they need to go to other communities away from Kelowna where they have family and support.
“We will often hear from women in more remote locations or even just, say, in Kamloops, who need to get to another community for their safety, and do not have the means,” Mason said.
When their partners control the finances, buying a ticket out of town is difficult, she said. Without a bus to catch, “they have no way to escape.”
Mason said transition house leadership in B.C. has been talking about securing transportation funding.
Greyhound announced it is ceasing passenger and freight services in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba come Oct. 31.
Provincial governments are considering options to keep communities affected by the decision connected with transportation.
The B.C. Society of Transition Houses says it’s imperative that a solution for travelling be found.
“The cancellation of Greyhound bus services in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario will put women and their children who are fleeing violence at greater risk,” said B.C. Society of Transition houses executive director Joanne Baker. “It is vital that women in rural and remote communities have access to safe and affordable transportation. Without it, they may have little choice but to remain with their abuser.
“The absence of affordable transportation also increases the risk of less safe ways travelling, such as hitch-hiking. This can result in horrific outcomes, as we know from the fate of so many missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in particular.”