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Coronavirus: Trudeau announces $40M for women’s shelters, $10M for Indigenous women and kids

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau announces $40M for women’s shelters, sex assault centres
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau announces $40M for women’s shelters, sex assault centres

Millions in funding will be going towards programs for vulnerable Canadians amid the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Saturday.

According to Trudeau, who spoke to reporters at a press conference in Ottawa, $40 million would be slated for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres across the country.

READ MORE: Canada not looking to retaliate after U.S. restricts coronavirus mask exports: Trudeau

The funding will be given to Women and Gender Equality Canada, with up to $26 million addressing the immediate needs of around 575 violence against women shelters and another $4 million for the Canadian Women’s Foundation to sexual assault centres across the country, according to a press release from the Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development.

Another $10 million would be given to Indigenous Services Canada to support 46 emergency Indigenous women and children’s shelters on reserves and in the Yukon.

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The announcement comes as an update to an earlier pledge by Trudeau last month, where he promised over $200 million in funding in support for shelters across the country for Canadians experiencing homelessness and women and children fleeing violence.

COVID 19 pandemic growing worse across Canada
COVID 19 pandemic growing worse across Canada

Executive Director of Women’s Shelters Canada Lise Martin said that the timing of the funding was “crucial for shelters and the women and children they support.”

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“We are committed to getting these funds to shelters and transition houses as quickly and easily as possible,” Martin said a press release. “We know that shelters were already struggling with high demand and a lack of funding before the pandemic.”

The largest investment however goes to the Reaching Home program — the federal government’s homelessness strategy.

Concerns for domestic violence victims in self-isolation
Concerns for domestic violence victims in self-isolation

Trudeau said that funding would be boosted by over $157 million for the program to help communities buy things like physical barriers or renting new spaces to keep people safe amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“The communities that need this funding have now been identified, and money is getting to them,” said Trudeau. “For people from Victoria to Hamilton, and Regina to St. John’s, help has arrived.”

READ MORE: Canada to provide more funding for seniors, vulnerable amid coronavirus pandemic: Trudeau

The announcement, which was originally made on March 18, specified that $157.5 million would be used to address homeless needs specifically, while another $50 million would be used for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres.

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According to the federal government website, the Reaching Home program provides funding to “urban, Indigenous, rural and remote communities” to help address their local homelessness needs.

— With files from Emerald Bensadoun and Hannah Jackson