Contributed illustration Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter said less bus service is putting women in rural areas at greater risk.

Fewer rural bus routes stops victims of abuse from reaching Red Deer

50 to 60 per cent of clients come from rural areas

Reduced bus service since the shutdown of Greyhound in Western Canada means it is more difficult for rural women escaping abuse.

It’s an assessment the operator of Rocky Mountain House’s shelter confirms.

Corrie McKilligan, operations manager of crisis intervention at the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter, said 50 to 60 per cent of clients come from rural areas and First Nations, and fewer are now able to flee.

“A lot of times, they’re put more at risk because there’s no way to get here,” said McKilligan about access to the 40-bed shelter.

“We, as an agency, have a very small budget to support client transportation. We do advocate for social services emergency transportation dollars, but again, they’re not always able to help.”

Six months ago, Greyhound Canada shut down most of its service in Western Canada and northern Ontario.

Services that have stepped in say they aren’t close to matching what Greyhound offered before it decided to abandon what it says was a money-losing business.

McKilligan said buses aren’t ideal, but they are a more affordable option to help women and children.

Related:

Central Alberta women’s shelter sees 200 per cent jump in outreach clients

Greyhound replacements find tough road to prosperity in Western Canada

Cindy Easton, executive director of the Mountain Rose Women’s Shelter in Rocky Mountain House, said Greyhound did not serve the community. Rural communities have faced transportation challenges for years, she added.

“We were very fortunate to receive a grant to buy a company vehicle and we transport to Red Deer,” said Easton of the vehicle purchased about four years ago.

But she said vehicle costs such as maintenance, insurance and fuel are an ongoing expense for the shelter.

She said almost daily trips are made because a lot of the medical, court and sexual assault support services that clients need are in Red Deer.

Often, clients will leave Rocky Mountain House for Red Deer or another city where they can access the wrap-around services they need, said Easton.

“That’s a challenge because they’re leaving all their informal support networks. They are leaving family and friends. You don’t think about that whole social network,” Easton said.

She said donations of gas cards have helped clients with access to vehicles stay in the community.

Mountain Rose Women’s Shelter is a 10-bed facility, but it will be opening a new 21-bed emergency shelter and five second-stage apartments in the fall.

About 400 to 500 individuals or families access the agency’s programs annually.

— With files from The Canadian Press

red deer citywomen shelters

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drive-by shooting in Wetaskiwin on Sunday

Two people injured in shooting

Four people charged in drug trafficking investigation

Rocky Mountain House RCMP execute search warrant

Trudeau caught in middle of clash over energy, environment, Indigenous demands

OTTAWA — The competing demands of natural resource development, environmental protection and… Continue reading

A rare miss for Walmart to end the year

NEW YORK — Walmart reported disappointing fourth-quarter profits and sales after a… Continue reading

Air Canada expects hit in Q1 of 2020 due to novel coronavirus and MAX grounding

MONTREAL — Air Canada says its first quarter is expected to be… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Reader’s opinion: Here’s how Premier Kenney can build a stronger Alberta

Apparently, the UPC government has decided that most seniors should pay more… Continue reading

United We Roll convoy cruises through central Alberta

It has been one year since the United We Roll convoy made its way from Alberta to Ottawa

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime returns to top 20 after reaching Rotterdam final

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime returned to the top 20 in the world rankings… Continue reading

Canadian teams looking strong at world junior curling championship

KRASNOYARSK, Russia — Winnipeg’s Jacques Gauthier posted two victories at the world… Continue reading

Canadian Weinstein accuser draws strength from #MeToo community, regardless of verdict

For years, Montreal actor Erika Rosenbaum says, she was harbouring a “secret”… Continue reading

‘Schitt’s Creek,’ ‘Anne with an E’ lead Canadian Screen Awards pack

TORONTO — It will be a celebrated ending for “Schitt’s Creek” and… Continue reading

Tournament of Hearts veteran skip Kerry Galusha curls through pain

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — If Kerry Galusha is skipping Northwest Territories at… Continue reading

Most Read