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Ability to Identify Available Shelter Beds will Ensure Timely Access to Vital Supports, Protect Vulnerable Manitobans: Cox

The Manitoba government is providing over $88,000 to End Homelessness Winnipeg to assist provincially funded family violence agencies in using a shared information system that will enable them to share data to better support families in need, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox, minister responsible for the status of women, announced today.

“When family violence reaches a critical point and victims need shelter, time is of the essence,” said Cox. “This information system, currently being used in the homeless-serving sector in many jurisdictions across Canada, will enable family violence agencies to share data in a timely manner so they can identify available family-violence shelter beds and ensure timely access to vital supports for victims.”

The Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) case management system is a comprehensive data collection and case management system developed by the Government of Canada. The minister noted the information system is a good fit for family violence agencies, as family violence survivors have unique housing needs as well as challenges in accessing social housing programs.

HIFIS will also allow agencies to create robust reports in an efficient manner, allowing them to focus more of their time and resources on providing services to vulnerable Manitobans. The information from the system can also help government identify and respond to emerging and existing issues by collecting disaggregated information, the minister said.

End Homelessness Winnipeg is currently assisting six provincially funded family violence shelters to start using HIFIS, with the support of federal Reaching Home COVID-19 funding. The province is providing more than $88,000 to the agency to support implementation of the information system for the remaining four provincially funded family violence shelters by the end of 2021, and for ongoing maintenance of the system and support for HIFIS users at all 10 family violence shelters.

“The importance of family violence shelters using a shared information system to get up-to-date information and timely services to women and children fleeing domestic abuse is critical,” said Lucille Bruce, CEO of End Homelessness Winnipeg. “End Homelessness Winnipeg is excited to be partnering with MAWS and the Manitoba government to assist families at risk of homelessness due to domestic violence to access support and permanent, safe housing.”  

The minister noted that COVID-19 has compounded the critical need for rapid access to information on available shelter beds. Today’s announcement supports the minister’s mandate to enhance services for survivors and the government’s larger pandemic response to protect Manitobans, especially those most vulnerable. 

“Our government is committed to protecting the health and well-being of all Manitobans through the pandemic and well after, and this technology will enable us to provide enhanced supports to those who are especially at risk because of COVID-19,” she said.

End Homelessness Winnipeg was established in 2015 through a community mandate to support the implementation of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Winnipeg.