Before International Women's Day, the March 8 Collective — a group representing more than 700,000 Quebec women — met with Quebec's Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest. The reason? To discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the province's women, including women in Montreal.
Days after the meeting, which March 8 Collective called "disappointing," Charest unveiled Quebec's action plan to counter the impacts of the pandemic on women. Despite this, local politicians believe the City of Montreal must create its own action plan to better support victims of domestic violence.
Ensemble Montréal, the official municipal opposition, issued a statement on March 9 urging the City of Montreal to develop its own action plan to support women during the pandemic.
It cited the violence against women that the United Nations is calling the "Shadow Pandemic."
"Since the very beginning of the pandemic, the phones haven't stopped ringing in shelters and counselling offices," the statement says.
"In Montreal, the occupancy rate regularly hits 100%."
What do local politicians want Montreal to do?
Ensemble Montréal urged the city to:
(1) "Press the Québec government to pay the amounts promised to agencies fighting against domestic violence, all the more so as 2021 has already been marked by five spousal homicides in less than a month;"
(2) "Ask the Quebec government to grant a rent subsidy to all victims of violence, regardless of their income;"
(3) Launch "a recurring communications campaign to provide victims with contact information for available resources in Greater Montréal;"
(4) Make available "a free temporary storage service to victims of domestic violence living in temporary shelters;"
(5) Make "empty office space available free of charge to organizations helping victims;"
(6) Provide "free transportation for victims of domestic violence arriving at a shelter on an emergency basis;"
(7) Provide "free moving services in collaboration with dedicated organizations."
The March 8 Collective also called on the provincial government to raise the minimum wage, stating an increase is "more than necessary" as a way to reduce the gender pay gap since the majority of minimum wage workers are women.