As we continue to adjust to the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, many of us find ourselves self-isolating and unable to leave our homes. Unfortunately, for some this means self-isolating with a violent partner they cannot escape. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has acknowledged the global increase in incidents of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic and that governments need to take immediate action to combat this issue.  

The Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments have responded to this by increasing funding to organizations that assist victims fleeing or coping with domestic violence. For example, the Federal government has committed $40 million to Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) to support organizations in meeting the real and increasing needs of this vulnerable community. The Ontario provincial government is providing an emergency payment of $2.7 million to domestic violence support services and agencies across Ontario to ensure they can stay open during this time.  

Although Egale acknowledges and appreciates the funding provided by all levels of government, there are still issues with how the LGBTQI2S community can access these services. For example, the federal government stated this money will fund violence against women’s shelters. This excludes men in same-sex relationships who are experiencing domestic violence. Further, it places trans people in a position where they could be discriminated against if the shelter does not believe they qualify for the services offered. The same issue applies with respect to the funding from the Ontario provincial government. Most organizations and service providers are for women exclusively, ignoring the needs of men in same-sex relationships and trans people.  

To ensure all Canadians receive the support necessary to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, additional funding ought to be provided to fund alternative shelter measures, ensuring all victims of domestic violence are supported during this unprecedented times. For example, in France, the government is paying for hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence. This is one way of accommodating men in same-sex relationships and trans people who often fall through the cracks of the shelter system.  

The provincial governments can also look to Yukon as an example when considering alternative supports for victims of domestic violence. The territorial government is providing 325 cellphones with four-month service plans for free to women in vulnerable situations. For many in self- isolation, a cellphone is their only means of safety or reprieve. This is an approach the provincial and other territorial governments can take, except provide cellphones to all victims of domestic violence.  

We hope the Federal, and other Provincial and Territorial governments consider these alternative measures and provide additional funding to support all victims of domestic violence.