Quebec is investing an additional $223 million into the fight against domestic violence in the wake of a spate of femicides this year.
At least 10 women have been killed by their male partners in 2021, a situation advocates say has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two of these women were Inuit.
In early February, Elisapee Angma was killed in an alleged murder-suicide in Kuujjuaq, in the northern Quebec region of Nunavik.
In late March, Kataluk Paningayak was also killed in an alleged murder-suicide in Ivujivik.
Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said today funding for the Emergency Response Plan will be spread over five years and comes in addition to amounts already announced.
The Quebec government was criticized for spending too little to fight domestic violence after it included $22.5 million over five years in its most recent budget.
Through the emergency plan, women’s shelters in the province will receive an extra $92 million over a five-year period to increase their capacity and service offerings.
According to the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, Inuit women seeking crisis assistance often have to fly out of their communities to get it.
There are only three established shelters currently carrying the weight for the 14 communities in Nunavik.
While answering questions on Friday, Guilbault could not say definitively whether the government plans to use a portion of the funds to construct new shelters in the North.
However, she did confirm Quebec’s emergency plan contains targeted funding for First Nations and Inuit.
“The plan and the investments we are announcing today contain a lot of measures- and some of which are specifically dedicated to make sure we are able to offer proper services to First Nations and Inuit,” Guilbault said responding to a question from APTN News.
“There is about $30 million of this whole amount of money that is dedicated to First Nations and Inuit to make sure we are able to provide them services that are culturally adapted and secured for them.”
Inuit say high domestic violence rates should be addressed with more treatment for men
As reported earlier this week, community members in Nunavik and regional health authority representatives both identified substantial gaps regarding healing services or therapy for men.
Guilbault acknowledged this gap at Friday’s press conference.
“Men who are violent, or at risk of becoming violent, and who leave their homes to seek help before hitting [people] – we have to be able to take them on and help them. And by doing so, we’re saving their wives and their children,” she added.
Guilbault said additional, specific funding announcements concerning police and correctional services, men’s programs, and culturally-adapted services for First Nations and Inuit will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
In a Facebook post, Premier Francois Legault spoke of the need to act “quickly, strongly, and efficiently.”
“We cannot tolerate that our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our colleagues [and] our friends live in fear,” Legault wrote.
“Conjugal violence and femicide are unacceptable.”
–With files from The Canadian Press.