Crises cause disruptions and changes to structures, systems, and patterns, but the extent and magnitude of the disruptions or changes are rarely understood. This is especially true in prolonged crises or the case of an already precarious industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the GBV sector faced these changes, but little was known about their extent and magnitude.

This issue brief reviews the main changes that were experienced in the sector, highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors and service provision sectors. The brief informs policy formulation on service sector re-categorization, service provision support, and intra- and inter-sector collaborations. These findings are intended to be useful for policymakers, legislators, and administrators.


Survivors shared their challenges navigating the legal system on their journey to safety and stability throughout the pandemic in research conducted by WomanACT and University of Guelph. The infographic looks at the supports requested by the survivors to help them navigate the legal system better.


Survivors shared their challenges navigating the legal system on their journey to safety and stability throughout the pandemic in research conducted by WomanACT and University of Guelph. The infographic looks at the number of legal factors survivors must account for.


We all deserve an Ontario government that is committed to ending gender-based violence.

Across Ontario, women, girls and gender diverse people are disproportionately impacted by violence, especially Indigenous, Black, trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary people, immigrant, refugee, and non-status women and women living with disabilities.

When we speak to women and gender diverse people experiencing violence across Ontario, we hear about the many systemic inequalities, risks and barriers they face daily. Women and gender diverse people are at a greater risk of violence in their homes, on the street and at work. They are unable to live free from violence because of a lack of access to income, decent work and affordable housing.

The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and intensified gender-based violence. Because of this, we only see the need for gender-based violence services, affordable housing and access to justice will only increase over the coming years. That’s why now more than ever, we need an Ontario government that is committed to prioritizing the safety of women and gender diverse people.

Call to action:

We’re calling on provincial political parties to commit to ending gender-based violence in Ontario with a priority on increased investment, coordinated strategy and systemic change. We’re asking parties to commit to:

  • A coordinated, funded and community-led provincial strategy to end gender-based violence.
  • A range of adequate and affordable housing options for survivors and their families, including the option to remain in their own home safely.
  • Significant increases to sustainable funding for feminist and anti-violence community agencies.

Measures put in place to mitigate COVID-19, such as stay at home orders, have put families experiencing intimate partner violence at greater risk. In particular, young women and women with children have been identified at greater risk for increased violence, housing instability, and decreased service provision.

The project will investigate patterns of violence and housing instability, and examine changes to experiences and services during the pandemic. The project will undertake a realist informed review of literature and conduct primary research. The project will also work closely with survivors to create digital narratives. Using the knowledge created, the project will build collaboration with policy makers, service providers and other knowledge users.

Intimate partner violence can have a significant impact on women’s economic security and employment. It can lead to job instability and loss. This can be because of poor mental health, trauma, relocation and sabotage by an abusive partner. For racialized women with experiences of intimate partner violence, this can be compounded by structural barriers and racism.

WomanACT consulted organizations that serve survivors of intimate partner violence and organizations that specialize in employment services for women on the barriers faced by organizations and survivors. The report explores what we heard from services providers, including their ideas for advancing survivors economic security and employment.


In January 2021, the Canadian government announced a commitment to develop a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. Leading up to the development of the Plan, we undertook consultations with community organizations and survivors on what they wanted to see in the Plan.

The report provides an overview of what we heard from consultations, including key messages and priorities for the Plan.


As we enter a third wave of the pandemic – what is showing to be the harshest wave yet – the provincial government must implement paid sick days.

Paid sick leave is a critical component of a pandemic response and yet, despite a call for paid sick leave from municipal governments and health authorities, the Ontario government has not implemented paid sick leave. Paid sick leave would help reduce the COVID-19 variant spread.

Paid sick leave is a gender issue. Women are less likely to have access to paid sick leave. Workers without paid sick leave are more likely to be in roles that are low paid and involve direct contact with others, like working in grocery stores, long-term care, or cleaning services. These roles are disproportionately held by women, particularly racialized women.

We cannot wait any longer to legislate paid sick days.

Take action now and tell the Ontario government you support paid sick days.

Stay informed! Receive updates on the campaign.

Let the government know you support paid sick days.

Support this campaign and share it with your network.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on survivors of gender-based violence and the organizations that support them. Health and safety measures to curb the spread of the virus have resulted in some survivors left isolating with their abusers and facing additional economic and social pressures.

This report highlights findings from a consultation we undertook at the outset of the pandemic. The report summarizes the challenges and concerns of service agencies working with survivors, information on the support they require to continue to operate during a pandemic as well as information on what is working well.


In September 2020, the government of Canada announced the new Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) to help address the urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by rapidly creating new affordable housing. This letter in response urges the government to ensure the initiative is aligned with Canada’s National Housing Strategy. It also asks the government to recognize the disproportional barriers that women and their children fleeing intimate partner violence face in accessing housing.