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OTTAWA – Women’s shelter workers are feeling even more pressure as the latest COVID-19 wave hits Canada, fuelled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Lise Martin, executive director of Women’s Shelters Canada, said shelters are overwhelmed in part because of significant staff turnover and shortages due to workers in COVID-19 isolation.

Those in the sector were already working under pandemic-era strains, including a spike in demand for shelter and services along with rising rates of gender-based violence across the country, said Martin.

During the pandemic, several helplines for women experiencing domestic violence have reported striking jumps in calls, with many noting the urgency and severity of callers’ situations having intensified.

Femicides have also been on the rise during the pandemic, with 92 women and girls killed in Canada in the first half of 2021, up from 78 during the same period in 2020 and 60 in 2019, according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability.

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