Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. On March 18, the Prime Minister announced various measures in his COVID-19 plan, including $50 million for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres. That was a rather meagre contribution for these centres, which have been struggling with an increase in demand as a result of COVID-19.
On October 8, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Ms. Monsef, announced an additional $50 million.
My question relates to Quebec’s share of that funding. I understand that payments are not being given directly to the shelters but instead are being allocated through the Secrétariat à la condition féminine du Québec. Can the government confirm that Quebec’s share of the first $50-million allocation has indeed been distributed to all of the centres and shelters in Quebec, which so desperately need it?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. Even though it has asked Canadians to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the government understands that not everyone is safe at home. As you may know, my wife works with women’s shelters in Montreal, so I have seen first-hand many of the challenges that victims of domestic and gender-based violence face. Your notice made it possible for me to make inquiries with the government and I was told that Quebec should be providing the government with an update later this month. However, according to the last update, Quebec has distributed $4.66 million of the expected $6.46 million to 156 organizations.
Senator Dalphond: The answer clearly indicates that the funds were distributed more slowly in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada.
My supplementary question concerns the additional $50 million announced by the minister in October. Does the agreement reached with Quebec mean that the funds will be distributed to the centres and the shelters faster this time than was the case with the initial $50 million?
Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. It is very important, and I will do my best to answer it. From what I’ve been told, Quebec has disbursed $1.65 million out of a total of $2.3 million, and 93 organizations have received funding. That said, no changes have been made to speed up the distribution of funds. The funds have been transferred, and Quebec is responsible for identifying the organizations that will receive funding and the amounts distributed. From the information I’ve been given, the only change to the agreement is that the province has until March 31, 2021, to distribute the funds to organizations, whereas the previous deadline was December 31, 2020.