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Budget crunch forces women's shelter to slash services

In less than a week, Bryony House will start turning away womenrequiring their services and support, but who aren’t staying at theHalifax shelter.

In less than a week, Bryony House will start turning away women requiring their services and support, but who aren’t staying at the Halifax shelter.

The transition house for abused women and their children will stop offering its outreach program next Tuesday due to an operational funding freeze that was put in place more than a dozen years ago.

Executive director Laurie Ehler said Bryony House will maintain its 24-bed shelter and distress line, but emphasized the loss of this program could have potentially deadly results.

“It impacts women who are, a lot of the time, high-risk for serious harm and injury or lethality,” she said yesterday. “It’s not that people can wait six months for support or go on a waiting list.”

Ehler said an outreach worker has been laid off, while two other full-time staffers have had their hours reduced to part-time.

“Even today, we had a woman who had a horrendous incident happen. She’s not ready to come into the shelter but is looking for court support and counselling, and we don’t have it,” she said. “It’s a tremendous blow.”

The Public Service Alliance of Canada agreed yesterday in a news release that “the entire community of metro Halifax will see abused women and children suffer without this necessary service."

“It is wrong to allow this cut to happen.” Jeannie Baldwin, the union’s regional vice-president, said in the release.

The Department of Community Services funds 75 per cent of Bryony House’s budget, which Ehler said totals about $1 million annually -- fundraising makes up the other 25 per cent.

Community Services spokesman Lucas Wide said Bryony House’s board of directors has been working hard to make wise financial decisions.

“Across the province, people are being asked to live within their means,” he said yesterday.

Board chairwoman Janice Beare confirmed yesterday Bryony House is carrying a deficit of about $100,000, but said Community Services provided about that much last year to upgrade the shelter.

 
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