Ontario needs information to ensure shelter money is well spent
TheStar.com – opinion/editorials – The Ontario government must do a better job of monitoring the successes and failures of government-funded women’s shelters.
Dec 12 2013. Editorial
It’s fair to say that a woman’s escape from abuse is as terrifying as the violence she’s trying to flee, particularly when children are involved.
After suffering physical harm or verbal attacks, most women aren’t exactly their most confident selves so there’s nothing better than a safe shelter where people are trained to help. Supports like this make a world of difference.
So it’s concerning that the Ontario government, which spent $142 million on women’s shelters and supports in 2012-13, does not monitor the success of its emergency shelters. Since one in 16 Ontario women report spousal abuse, that lack of oversight is worrisome.
Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk highlighted the minimal monitoring in her annual report this week. Lysyk rightly notes that the province “does not have the information it needs to properly assess whether its efforts to prevent domestic violence or improve supports for abused women and their children are working.” That’s unfortunate.
Better data leads to smarter decisions that can sometimes save lives. The Ministry of Community and Social Services must properly detail the successes and failures of women’s emergency shelters to improve services. Right now it’s groping in the dark.
For example, in 2011-12, overflowing shelters turned away more than 15,000 women seeking help. That huge number could make the case for additional beds but the lack of follow-up to see if those women were accepted at other shelters — or left to fend for themselves — renders the number meaningless.
It’s a shame that proper programming is lost because information isn’t collected. Ontario must do better, for the sake of abused women and their children.
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