MP Serré, it's wonderful to see you well.
When the pandemic hit, the moment that really hit home for my team and I was when the Prime Minister had to self-isolate. At that time, we got on the phone with women's organizations, our partners across the country. In the next 48 hours there was a series of phone calls. Organizations all said the same thing when we asked them what we should do first: The last place that women will go when they need help is shelters and sexual assault centres, so we better make sure that when she knocks on the door, it is open to her and she's safe.
We've been very fortunate to have very positive relationships with all of our partners across the country, the other ministers responsible for women and gender equality in every province and territory. We realized that the rate of response was key. We had to get the money out very quickly. Flexibility was also going to be key, and we knew that to ensure there was no overlap of our funds, as resources are always limited, we had to make sure there weren't gaps created in the supports we were providing to organizations across the community. In that regard, working very closely with our provincial and territorial counterparts would be key.
After we came up with a list of partnerships with women's organizations, including Women's Shelters Canada and the Canadian Women's Foundation, we were able to share it with provincial and territorial partners, which then went through it and added to it, and told us who was getting funding already. When we rolled out the funds, they went out in a coordinated fashion to organizations that are providing support to some three million women and children across the country.
Those partnerships are going to be key not only in the ongoing efforts to respond to COVID, but also in the work that will need to happen with the national action plan.