Starting Saturday, there will be fewer services available for vulnerable women in Montreal, including those experiencing homelessness.
Chez Doris, which caters to this clientele, is temporarily suspending certain daytime services until December at the earliest due to a lack of staff. Executive Director Marina Boulos-Winton says it was a difficult decision to make.
“The reality is there are so many people who need help, it’s not a question of too many services,” she told PKBNEWS. “There just aren’t enough.”
Among the services affected are meals, daybeds and caregivers. Limited a*sistance at the day shelter will still be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., such as mail and telephone services, as well as emergency bed reservations for the night shelter.
According to Boulos-Winton, this move was necessary due to staff shortages: they need more than 20 people. They are also affected by the increase in the number of unhoused people in the city, which is putting a strain on staff.
“We’ve seen a lot of (staff) turnover also because the situations they’re facing are much more serious,” Boulos-Winton said.
For example, staff are seeing more victims of s****l a*sault as well as an increase in clients with mental health and substance abuse issues. With this partial closure of services, Chez Doris staff believe they can better coordinate the hiring and training of new staff.
Old Brewery Mission leader James Hughes says the closure is a sign of the pressure on shelters.
“We totally understand,” he said. “This is not a problem that Chez Doris alone faces when it comes to labor and labor shortages. We are facing some of these issues ourselves, but fortunately we have been able to keep services open.
In fashion now
Staff at other shelters fear they will see an increase in demand for their services as Chez Doris downsizes. Near Resilience Montreal, co-founder David Chapman says the number of meals has already doubled in recent months to 450. He now expects that number to increase even more.
“The challenge is that with these sudden and significant increases, we don’t budget for it at the beginning of the year,” he explained, adding that this creates a huge problem.
“When you’re trying to find money for things like food and people to administer the food and prepare it, it’s actually very difficult to find that money.”
He thinks governments should make funding for shelters more flexible to cope with the unexpected demands they are about to face.
For now, he needs to find another source of funding – and fast.
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