Hamilton council approves emergency funds for life-saving service


Published November 14, 2019 at 2:14 am

City Council on Wednesday (Nov. 13) voted to approve emergency funds for a life-saving service provided through the YWCA.

City Council on Wednesday (Nov. 13) voted to approve emergency funds for a life-saving service provided through the YWCA.

Last week, representatives from YWCA, Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team and Willow’s Place women’s shelter appeared before the city’s Emergency and Community Services Committee to request a one-time infusion of $228,000 to get their emergency overnight women’s services at Carole Anne’s Place up and running this winter.

At the council meeting, General Manager of emergency community services, Paul Johnson, confirmed that a number of yet-to-be-identified health partners have committed $100,000 to get Carole Anne’s up and running in the coming months.

Therefore, council was asked to approve funding upwards of $128,000.

Carole Anne’s, located at the MacNab YWCA, offers beds to approximately 10 to 20 women a night starting in December and lasting through the winter months.

Addiction and withdrawal services are also provided at Carole Anne’s alongside Willow’s Place, a daytime women’s services centre that is wholly funded through Mission Services.

Without the emergency service, YWCA representatives estimate that nearly 300 women will be left out in the cold this winter.

Women who cannot find a safe space in the cold winter months, who cannot access traditional shelters turn to places like Carole Anne’s, explained the YWCA’s Medora Uppal at last week’s committee meeting. If they can’t, “they end up in very dangerous situations that most of us can never understand.”

Last year, Carole Anne’s and Willow’s Place logged more than 4,000 visits from more than 260 unique women. In many cases, Uppal said, they are accessing life-saving services.

On Wednesday, Councillor Brad Clark pointed out during the meeting that moving forward, this service will likely have other sources of funding as Ontario Health establishes their foothold in the province.

In the meantime, he noted, the interim period between the dissolution of the LHIN and getting Ontario Health up and running has presented some challenges for funding.

In the end, councillors voted to approve the funding with a number of amendments to ensure more secure methods of funding be found for the service and also that staff report back on ways to handle these kinds of asks from organizations going forward.

Councillor Terry Whitehead was the lone opposed vote.

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