Kate: This is the first government that has had a Domestic Violence Action Plan, and we have made some strides. We're not there yet; but certainly, there is movement. And it is on the political agenda.

Slide: 14,000 women in Ontario used emergency shelters.

Minister Meilleur: In Ontario we're serving about 14,000 women a year in our shelter system. But there are a lot more that are out there, and they either don't know that they have an option, or they are too embarrassed. Domestic violence does not know any social group.

Kate: If you don't have a lot, you don't have a lot of supports in your life. Where are you gonna go? You're gonna come here. Of course you're gonna come here. And even then, it's really, really hard to come into a shelter because it's a scary place, and your kids … you know, your dad's your dad, but it's what you know. It's what you know and it's who you love. So it's very difficult. There's a lot of pressure on mothers to go back just because their kids want their family to be intact.

Kate: Women's Community House is a high security shelter. This is one of our buildings and there are three different doors we all have to come in through, and the door has to close behind us before the next set of doors will open.

Kate: We are designed similar to jails, only we're trying to keep people out. We've got 16 cameras around the building. We have a system that will also photograph anybody who comes here.

Slide: Women stayed in shelters for an average of 21 days.

Minister Meilleur: I have seen many, many situations where a woman will tell you in confidentiality, that yes, they were a victim of violence at one point in their life.

Kate: Well, when you leave a relationship, if you've been unable to access any information about your financial status, if you've been isolated … when you come here, you are not only homeless, but you are absolutely poor. You don't even know how to get a hold of those resources.

Minister Matthews: This announcement absolutely relates to our Poverty Reduction Strategy. We know that women who have suffered abuse are at much higher risk of poverty than other women. And this announcement actually increases our ability to be there for this very vulnerable group of women and their children. Leaving an abusive relationship is a very difficult thing to do. Way too many women stay in abusive relationships because they can't afford to leave.

Slide: 83 new shelter beds and $1.5 million for second stage housing will give Ontario women the safety and support they need to rebuild.

Minister Matthews: The rebuilding that happens in second stage housing is really important to sustain the movement, the transition to a new, fresh life.

Karin: Can you tell people what second stage housing is?

Kate: Well, second stage housing is past the crisis. It's an opportunity for women who continue to need support, continue to need increased safety, to go to an apartment complex. We have 25 apartment units. And they can remain there up to a year with their children, and it's controlled access, again, and we do groups, etc., and link them up with other services in the community as they're getting ready to move on. We also have accessible units. It's hard to find safe, affordable accessible units.

Slide: In 2008 Ontario is investing $210 million to keep women safe.

Minister Meilleur: Women don't want to stay in situations of violence and most of them after they have received help, they go on with their life, they have a better life, they get out of these situations of violence … and that's what we want.

Karin: Do you ever hear from people who have gone through this kind of system, come to your shelter and maybe gone to transitional housing, from the community? Ever hear back from them … especially people where it's really helped their lives … helped them get back on their feet?

Kate: Oh yeah, absolutely. We hear about that, actually, quite often. It's the magic that happens — we get letters, we get thank-you cards. We've got all sorts of lovely, lovely stories and lovely outcomes … and we are absolutely necessary in many people's lives.

Minister Meilleur: There is an open door with services that will welcome them if they need our assistance.