Today, the two largest community organizations helping homeless women in Quebec, the Association d’entraide Le Chaînon and the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion, join forces at Robin des Bois, 4653 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, to highlight persistent inequities in the public funding of vital services for women in need.
According to Florence Portes, Director of the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion, the Quebec government is forcing community organizations serving the highest proportion of impoverished and marginalized women to continually do more with less. “Of the $10 million announced last June by the Quebec government to help boost services for the homeless, Le Chaînon and the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion will each receive nothing or almost nothing,” she says. “The government’s failure to provide adequate, fair funding directly affects the services offered to over 600 homeless women who are welcomed each year by the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion,” Portes highlights.
Marcèle Lamarche, Executive Director of Le Chaînon, adds that Quebec’s funding practices are discriminatory against our community’s most vulnerable women. “In 2009, the Quebec government agreed to fund 50 per cent of the costs of emergency services for homeless men. For some incomprehensible reason, that same government did not deem it necessary to give the same funding for services provided to women. As a result, public funding barely covers nine per cent of the costs of services provided by the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion and Le Chaînon,” says Lamarche.
Both organizations find it unacceptable for the government to fund community health and social services organizations differently, based on the gender of their users.
The Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion and Le Chaînon also question why other organizations in Montréal, offering similar services, currently receive $100 per bed, while they each receive an average of $9 per bed. They note that the government’s funding formula also means that community organizations committed to helping homeless women and women in difficulty are pitted against each other. Despite the inequity, both organizations say they stand in solidarity with their sister organizations.
“Our elected officials must recognize that it’s time, once and for all, to grant the same respect to all housing resources, without exception and without discrimination. This cannot be done without sufficient and recurrent financial aid which would allow our two organizations to accomplish our work other than with great difficulty and distress,” says Lamarche.
Florence Portes says the government must act now to correct the injustice and promote true financial equity. “For the government to restore equity amongst all resources of the same nature as ours, it will have to apply its own lower threshold.”