Saving the shelter
Minden Hills council made the right call last week by making a $5,000 donation to the Peterborough Haliburton YWCA in order to help the women’s shelter in Minden continue to operate.
Well, council agreed to contribute $2,500 from the 2017 budget and $2,500 from the 2018 budget.
The YWCA needs to raise $120,000 during the next year to continue to operate the shelter for the next two years and last week had reached some $90,000 of that goal.
The shelter was closed for five months last year, from November of 2015 until spring of 2016, due to a lack of resources.
The importance of the shelter, deemed HERS (Haliburton Rural Emergency SafeSpace), cannot be overstated. Having existed for the past two decades, it’s a safe haven for women and children in the county who are suffering domestic abuse.
And the stats on domestic abuse in Haliburton County are staggering and scary.
Last year, the YWCA received more than 1,200 crisis calls from women in Haliburton County. That’s more than three a day on average.
Really let that sink in for a second.
Women in the county are especially at risk because many homes are in isolated, rural locations and the community has no public transportation.
Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin said last week he expected the YWCA rep to be the first in an avalanche of people coming before council requesting municipal funding because of across-the-board funding decreases from the province.
While it’s true that there has been ongoing downloading of responsibilities from the provincial to municipal level in Ontario since the Harris government in the 1990s, in this case, that’s off the mark.
As was reported in the Times in December, the YWCA’s closure of the shelter last year was not due to any new funding decrease – it did experience a massive cut during the Harris years, following which its funding was frozen – but due to increased usage.
The shelter was used so much in 2015 that the YWCA burned through its allotted resources much quicker than usual.
That fact is also staggering and scary.
Local municipalities – the YWCA will be making the same request of all of them – should be willing to deliver on funding, and not just this time around, if so required.
We’re talking about a service that is not only life-saving for victims of domestic abuse, but is paid for by residents of other communities.
The Peterborough Haliburton YWCA receives about 60 per cent of its funding from upper levels of government, fundraising most of the remainder. Most of those funds are raised in Peterborough and then transferred to operations in Haliburton County.
There are women in this community who desperately require this service and this community should be willing to at least help pay for it.
If Minden Hills council can find money for stray cats or if it can find $10,000 to take 20 boats out of Big Bob Lake, then surely, when needed, it can find a few thousand dollars to help keep the women’s shelter operational.