Whatever I've said is based on the experience we have had when women have come to us at the shelter or at the centres. A lot of women do have jobs, but if a woman doesn't have a job and has been accustomed to being financially dependent, the first thing we do is to get her onto welfare. This welfare is $600. If she has to pay $500 a month for rent because there is not enough affordable social housing, then that's an issue for her. If she has children, that issue is compounded.
I would say that if a study were to be done, it should be to look at a sliding scale of needs, because we don't want abuse of the system either. This is not what we're advocating for. We have to make the women autonomous. That's a basic thing in the feminist perspective as well: How can a woman become autonomous and not fall back into an abusive situation? I'm sure that a study could be done, but $600 of welfare is not enough.
On the other side of the spectrum, what are we supposed to do with women who come to us in order to get more funding? Are we supposed to tell them how they can get money in cash and that they should not divulge money that they get? The circle of poverty that a lot of women who are also victims of conjugal violence have is a circle that should be broken at some point. Again, conjugal violence is not a poor woman's issue; it's just that women who are poor feel it so much more.
What can we do? We have received help at the level of the shelters and we have to thank the government for that, because every shelter in Quebec got, through the funding, approximately $50,000 for the COVID situation. But let's see what we can do for the woman, the victim, herself. Is there something that we can provide her in terms of financial assistance that will help her on her road towards autonomy? This is so important and it's particularly important for women who don't have the choice, which is what I was trying to describe before.
No, I have no perspective on what this issue would be, but I'm sure that if we set up a committee, we could arrive at some logical outcome. However, there is a crying need for the women who are victims of conjugal violence to get this financial stipend or allowance. I don't know what to call it.