QUEBEC CITY -- As part of its pledge to fight domestic violence in Quebec, the province has announced an additional $20 million for organizations which help men struggling with violent behaviour.

That is in addition to the announcement Friday of an “emergency” $222.9 plan over five years, which included $92 million towards women’s shelters, after a devastating spate of conjugal murders in Quebec – 10 women dead since January.

“It’s about time,” said Robert Cazelais, general manager of Pro-Gam Montreal, which provides confidential therapy to men who have exhibited violence in domestic or family relationships.

Cazelais says the organization has been getting six times more calls during the pandemic.

Funding from the province will allow them to hire more psychologists, and Cazelais says that will make a big difference in the services they can offer.

"Because men, when they call us, we need to help them now,” he said. “Men are not really used to crying for help. And when they call, we need to act quickly.”

“If we don't act quickly, they will give up."

Quebec’s public security minister Genevieve Guilbault says the province’s goal is to help women who have become victims of conjugal violence, and that supporting men is an important step along the way.

“It is a priority to help women, to help children, that goes without saying. But we need to address the problem at its source," she said.

A lack of funding for men’s support groups in the past has lead to long waiting times, with services spread thin. Advocates say men who reach out for help can wait as long as three months before seeing a counsellor.

For some men, problems can develop at as early as childhood, when boys aren’t taught how to manage their emotions.

“The old way of raising our boys was that methodology of ‘boys are supposed to be strong,’ ‘men are not supposed to cry,’ and it can create a lot of internalized emotions because they don't know how to process [their feelings],” said domestic abuse advocate Svetlana Chernienko.

“It turns into anger, and they become abusive men in relationships."

Learning to deal with those emotions is often done through group interventions. The new investment will allow organizations across Quebec to hire 60 additional staff members.

"We need to be able to help them, and prevent them from making more victims throughout their lives,” said Guilbault.

“Because after [abusing] one woman, he will have another companion, another girlfriend, and will make serial victims."


McGill Domestic Violence Clinic, for men and women

The clinic is associated with McGill University but is a private entity, and so there is a charge for its services, but on a sliding scale, depending on one’s ability to pay, according to social worker Audrey Elkeslassy.

Montreal’s West-island CIUSSS told CTV they refer men upon request to two organizations mandated in Quebec to offer free services:

PRO-GAM, which describes itself as a therapy program for men who have resorted to violence in their domestic or family relationships.

OPTION, offers services in French to men and women exhibiting violent behaviour in a conjugal or family context