You are right; women's shelters and women's organizations, particularly over the past few decades, have had to find creative ways to make ends meet. They've been able to maintain their services despite the whims and the values of the various governments of the day.
We came in, in 2015, and one of our first steps forward on that front was providing supports to support and maintain 7,000 shelter units. We also carved out one-third of the national housing strategy so that women who are staying in shelters could then move into affordable housing, so that they could free up spaces but also piece back together and rebuild their lives. To date, about 29% of the national housing strategy has supported builds for women.
In addition to that, we were able to put forward funding to support shelters through capacity-building funds, through the gender-based violence program. During the COVID response, one of the first calls was to Lise Martin of Women's Shelters Canada. In partnership with her and her team, we were able to get money directly into the bank accounts of some 500 shelters in Canada to respond to COVID.
There is absolutely more work to do. We know that the work around operations for these women's organizations and equality-seeking organizations has to be in conjunction and co-operation with provinces and territories. The national action plan for gender-based violence is going to create an opportunity to further support these organizations.
MP Mathyssen, I look forward to your continued advocacy and partnership to ensure greater sustainability for these essential services for Canadians.