Deep into the second wave of COVID-19, Rogers Communications is providing hundreds of free phones, voice and data plans to women’s shelters across Quebec to enable connectivity for women experiencing violence and abuse.
A recent report shows that since the start of the pandemic, the severity of violence against women seeking shelters has doubled, causing an urgent need to support women and children who may be facing the reality of being at home with an abusive family member.
“For Quebec women and children escaping abuse, phones and connectivity provide an essential digital lifeline that allows them to access emergency resources safely,” said Edith Cloutier, President of Quebec, Rogers Communications. “When home is no longer a safe place to be, we’re proud to help enable these critical connections for women and children so they can access critical resources from the organizations that support them.”
Expanding on a previous announcement with Quebec women’s shelters like L’Arrêt-Source and Le Chaînon in Montreal last spring, Rogers is providing hundreds of additional phones along with six months of free voice and data plans to women’s shelters across the province. The company is extending all services to the end of June 2021 to bridge connectivity needs as women are experiencing increased isolation during the second COVID-19 wave, with restrictions across Quebec.
Quebec women’s shelters receiving phones and plans include L’Inter Elles in Langelier, Maison Simonne Monet-Chartrand in Chambly, La Maison d’hébergement L’Égide in La Prairie, Le Havre des Femmes in L’Islet, La maison d’Athena in Montréal, Maison secours aux femmes in Montréal, La Clé sur la Porte in St-Hyacinthe, L’Ombre-Elle in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Regroup’elles in Terrebonne Havre l’Éclaircie in St-Georges.
“It is crucial for women victims of violence, regardless of the region across Quebec, to be able to communicate easily and quickly with their loved ones, but also to stay in contact with shelter teams in case of need or danger,” said Manon Monastesse, Executive Director, Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes. “All the more so in this time of the pandemic, during which it is advisable to stay at home and go out as little as possible. Phones are tools that allow women to communicate securely and discreetly with shelters.”
“We know that the pandemic has had a significant impact on women,” said Mathilde Trou, co-responsible for political issues, Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale. “Thanks to these cell phones, the women in our care and staying in our shelters will be able to stay in touch with their loved ones and continue their efforts, without having to worry about the minutes they have left on their phone. This is invaluable help and will be greatly appreciated.”
“A phone is a crucial link for isolated women to maintain contact with their loved ones and our support services during the pandemic,” said Gaëlle Fedida, Political Affairs Coordinator, Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale. “Having safe phone lines at their disposal, ones that are unknown to their abusive spouse, allows women to concretely move forward towards a new life without violence.”
If you are a woman living in an abusive home, or you know someone who is, you can call your local shelter’s 24/7 crisis line for advice and support. Find your local shelter and its crisis line on sheltersafe.ca/quebec.
In addition to today’s announcement, Rogers previously announced donations of 300 phones and plans to keep Quebec youth connected to mentors. These services have been extended by another six months to bridge connectivity needs during this second wave of COVID-19. This includes phones and plans to organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Montreal to allow “Littles” to stay in regular contact with their “Bigs”, Pflag Montreal for virtual peer mentoring sessions for LGBTQ2S+ youth and their families, and for virtual youth education programs offered by YMCA of Quebec and the Fondation pour les élèves de la Commission scolaire de la région de Sherbrooke.