Women and “too expensive” doors

We wouldn’t think of saying to someone calling for help from a burning house: “Please call back tomorrow!” »

Yet this is what SOS Domestic Violence workers must too often respond, reluctantly, to women caught in the heat of a violent home.

Due to a lack of sufficient places and services in shelters, 17 women every day consumed by domestic violence are told, in a way, by the government: “Wait, ladies! Your call is important to us. An agent will respond to you shortly. Right now, you’re paying too much for the door. »

At $900,000 per door, we are talking about “really excessive costs,” declared the Minister responsible for Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, on March 141. It was in the wake of a public outing, a week earlier, by associations of shelters for women and children victims of violence who denounced that their projects were blocked without their particular needs being taken into account.2.

I spoke about it the day after March 8, thinking somewhat naively that the government, on the strength of the excellent transpartisan work accomplished following the report Rebuilding trustwould quickly come to his senses and understand that we are not exactly talking here about princess whims3.

What happened next proved me royally wrong. The same day the National Assembly adopted the famous “vagina motion” to supposedly protect women’s rights4, Minister Duranceau missed a great opportunity to really defend them. Instead of committing to responding to the concerns of overwhelmed shelter associations, she denounced the “cost at the door” of certain shelters.


The Minister responsible for Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau

“We are #pasdesportes,” the associations responded last week, transforming the indignant words of Kim Lizotte into a campaign on social networks.

“We are building a safe and warm place for women and children. The only one they have left,” they wrote, imploring Prime Minister François Legault and Minister Duranceau to give them the means to save lives.

Since then, things finally seem to be moving forward. Discussions with the Société d’habitation du Québec as well as Minister Duranceau’s office made it possible to arrive at pathways so that shelters could see the light of day quickly. Unfortunately, fundamentally, the problem remains unsolved.

This case demonstrates a misunderstanding on the part of Minister Duranceau of the role of the State in the prevention of domestic violence. Nobody is against the rigorous management of public funds, of course. But relying on an accounting logic of “cost at the door” for homes that accommodate women whose lives are threatened is to miss the target.

We save nothing at all by saying “Wait!” » to women and children trying to escape an abusive home. Yes, it is expensive to build enough shelters. But it costs a company even more not to do so. In broken lives, in increased problems, in mortgaged futures, in the professional burnout of workers who no longer know what to say to women in distress who call them in tears…

Hearing the minister talk about excessive costs “at the door” of shelters, one had the impression that she was denouncing frivolous state spending. Let the worried taxpayer be reassured: we are not talking here about building replicas of the Palace of Versailles for women victims of violence.

If you want to understand why it can cost so much, read the report by my colleague Katia Gagnon who dissects the second stage house project at $900,000 per door planned for Rouyn5. A project that is necessary when there is no such house for women most at risk of spousal homicide in the entire Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

Why does it cost so much? Don’t worry, we don’t have gold toilets or diamond-studded four-poster beds.

So what ? In addition to the explosion in construction and materials costs that affects all projects in Rouyn, it is necessary to decontaminate the yard where the children would play, which in itself costs $500,000. Playing outside on uncontaminated land isn’t exactly a luxury, we agree. Neither does doing it in a safe place when fleeing an abusive home. The particular security needs of these houses where the first criterion for admission is the dangerousness of the ex-spouse also contribute to inflating the bill.

For example, it is necessary to provide a U-shaped building so that the playing field is hidden from view. Or install armored windows and stainless steel mosquito nets with attacker-proof steel frames. Because sleeping soundly in front of an ordinary window is unfortunately a luxury that these women do not have.

If we want to soundly manage public funds in the fight against domestic violence, it is not the “too expensive” armored doors of shelters that we must blame, but the lack of leadership and coordination which means that despite François Legault’s promise to take this issue head on in 2021, the latter found himself stuck between two boxes on the desk of the Minister responsible for Housing.

Faced with such a crucial issue which is the responsibility of eight ministries, three secretariats and nine state agencies, it takes a leader in government with the decision-making power and authority necessary to effectively coordinate the fight against domestic violence and be accountable to the government. highest level. For the moment, the coordination of this fight falls to the Secretariat for the Status of Women, whose powers and levers are insufficient.

This was one of the most important recommendations of the report Rebuilding trust, because it oversees all the others. Unfortunately, it never saw the light of day. It’s not too late to act on it. It would even be urgent.

1. Read the article “House for women victims of domestic violence: at $900,000 “the door”, the cost is “excessive”, judge Duranceau”

2. Read “Families victims of domestic violence: “inadequate” funding from Quebec forces the cessation of accommodation projects”

3. Read the column “How much does a woman’s life cost?” »

4. Read the column “The vagina motion”

5. Read the article “House for abused women: what is hidden behind the $900,000 per door”

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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