Two thirds of Alberta women who go to shelters at ‘extreme’ risk of being murdered: ACWS

EDMONTON — Women in Alberta are at increasing risk of serious domestic violence, according to the latest statistics from the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS).

The report revealed nearly two thirds of women who go to Alberta shelters are at an extreme risk of being murdered by their partner.

Jan Reimer, the ACWS executive director, said that’s the highest risk level in eight years.

“It’s not one woman’s problem. It’s not one family’s problem. It’s all of us that have to come together and make a difference. It’s a problem for our community.”

In 2018, 10,128 women, children and seniors were sheltered, but 23,247 women and children were turned away.

Reimer hopes the federal government’s reinstatement of a shelter enhancement program will bode well for the future. Provincially, she says the government has committed to maintain shelter funding, but the volume of need is a worry.

“We are concerned with the increased demand, how we’re going to keep up,” she said.

The numbers do present one encouraging trend among those accessing these services, with 96 per cent of women and seniors not returning to their abusers.

“It shows that shelter programs work,” Reimer said. “We are seeing, in terms of the outcomes, of the work that shelters are doing and of the outreach programs, it does make a difference in the safety of women and seniors’ lives.”

According to ACWS, a woman is killed by their partner every six days in Canada, and Alberta has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country.

ACWS supports 51 shelters across the province.