Alberta Provincial Shelter Data Released

For Immediate Release 
October 2, 2013 

ALBERTA – The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS) is releasing the annual aggregated data from shelters all over the province.  Collected from April 2012 to March 2013, the data demonstrates the increased demands placed upon women’s shelters due to the lack of accessible support for abused women and their children.

While the number of women and children admitted overall is down slightly from last year (by about 200), the numbers of women turned away is up substantially.  The number of children turned away is also up as a result (because their mothers were turned away).  

ACWS defines "turn-aways" as those who could not be accommodated for a number of reasons (e.g., lack of available bedrooms).  Seniors shelters saw an increase in both number of seniors served as well as the number turned away. Shelters do their best to help those turned away by connecting them to other resources in their community in best efforts to keep them safe.  

Many shelters are reporting a marked increase in the individual length of stay, which results in the overall numbers of women helped dropping down.  Among the many reasons women are needing to stay longer in shelter, common themes shelters are reporting are:  

  • lack of accessible housing, because "affordable" housing is scarce and often still too expensive for under-resourced women  
  • lack of funding for women leaving abusive lives in general 
  • women need to stay in emergency shelter longer to receive specialized supports for themselves and their children (including trauma interventions, immigration issues, mental health challenges, language barriers, and addictions issues, etc.). 

“The minimum wage (Alberta's being the lowest in the country), as well as low social assistance rates, impacts women and keeps them and their children below the poverty line," says Jan Reimer, Executive Director of ACWS. "Shelters are doing everything they can to help families and accommodate the increasing demand for services, but it’s not enough."   

From April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013:
Total Women admitted: 5646 
Total Children admitted: 5480 
Total Women turned-away: 15,032 (Resulting Children turned-away with their mothers:  12,881)

See a complete summary of the annual data with themes in the document: "What we're seeing behind the numbers".
Looking beyond our provincial borders, The Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses has recently released a report, “the Case for a National Action Plan on Violence Against women” which addresses the need for a national housing strategy.  

Background:  The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters is an ambassador for women’s shelters in Alberta, providing support to members and leadership to leverage the collective knowledge:  informing solutions to end domestic violence.  ACWS celebrates 30 years of inspired collaboration in 2013.

Christie Lavan, Communications & Partnerships Advisor
Office: (780)-456-7000 ext. 222