Allan Lucier with the Department of Justice talks to media in Whitehorse on Jan. 11, 2018. The Yukon Department of Justice has taken the first public step towards creating a halfway house for women in the territory, a facility advocates say has been desperately needed. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon government seeking expressions of interest for women’s halfway house

Advocates say that a facility for justice-involved women is long overdue

The Yukon Department of Justice has taken the first public step towards creating a halfway house for women in the territory, a facility that advocates say is desperately needed.

The department issued a request for expressions of interest Aug. 7 for “proposed sites and program models for 24/7 supervised community housing for justice-involved women transitioning back into the community or in need of supportive housing while actively involved in justice-related matters.”

Currently, there’s only a supervised residential facility in the Yukon for men, located in a former unit of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) and run by justice advocacy group the John Howard Society. A previous facility, known as the Yukon Adult Resource Centre (ARC), was run by the Salvation Army.

“I think we’ve been acutely aware that this sort of programming has been available for men for quite sometime and hasn’t been available for women,” assistant deputy minister of justice Allan Lucier said in an interview Aug. 13.

“It’s been a topic of reports, it’s been (the) topic of commentary, particularly recently as we shifted the pattern for service delivery for justice-involved adult males … and that’s, I think, in part what brings us to seek through this expression of interest from individuals who would be interested in providing these services to justice-involved women in a non-custodial-type setting.”

According to Ashley Kurtz, a strategic initiatives and business advisor with Yukon corrections, the last time the territory had a halfway house for women was about 15 years ago. The ARC, she told the News, had previously hosted a program for women too, and, at one point, a retired social worker had opened up rooms in her own home for justice-involved women.

Whitehorse criminal defence lawyers Jennifer Budgell and Jennifer Cunningham, as well as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon executive director Wenda Bradley, said in separate interviews that a supervised housing facility for women was “long overdue.”

“I think it’s about time,” Bradley said Aug. 14. “It’s been a needed tool for women to help themselves and for the community to help women. It’s been a long time coming.”

Budgell and Cunningham both said Aug. 13 that they’ve faced difficulties in securing bail for women clients at the WCC because there was no safe or suitable address for them to go.

“For women who don’t have suitable housing with friends or family in the community, you basically hit a brick wall when putting together a bail plan because housing is central to any sort of bail plan, “ Budgell explained. “And whereas men could just apply to live at the YARC if they didn’t have housing in their community, women really hit a dead end and were forced, really to stay at WCC.”

Cunningham said she currently has two clients at the WCC she believes would be out on bail if a supervised housing facility for women existed in the Yukon. Besides allowing for bail, she said, a halfway house would also mean that women serving federal sentences and out on parole could come home and be with the families and communities instead of being placed in facilities Outside.

“We all know too that women are an afterthought in corrections and Indigenous women are disproportionately harmed by the systemic oppression in corrections and the lack of a halfway house has been part of that overall context,” Cunningham said.

Bradley, Budgell and Cunningham all said that they hoped there would be consultation with Yukon First Nations, women involved in the justice system, NGOs and legal advocates in the creation of the facility, expressing disappointment at what they said was a lack thereof when it came to moving the men’s facility to the old jail unit.

Lucier said he couldn’t, at the moment, offer a timeline for when the women’s facility would actually be created and operational, as that would depend on how many expressions of interest the department receives and how comprehensive they are.

“I would say in terms of my interest and I think the interest of justice, we want to see it as soon as possible, but we want to ensure that in the way we go about creating this, we’re doing it so that, well, one, we can’t miss-step and two, that we end up with a program and services and supports that meet those needs,” he said.

“So I think as quickly as possible is what we’re aiming for.”

The requests for expressions of interest close Sept. 1.

Contact Jackie Hong at

Yukon justice department

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

Just Posted

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

Yukon NDP leader Kate White, surrounded by socially distanced candidates, announces her platform in Whitehorse on March 29. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Kate White and the Yukon NDP Platform

A detailed look at the NDP platform and Kate White’s leadership campaign this election

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Sandy Silver announces the territorial election in Whitehorse. Silver is seeking a second term as premier and third term as Klondike MLA. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Getting to know Sandy Silver and the Yukon Liberal platform

Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is vying for a second term as… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media in Whitehorse on October 30, 2020. Hanley is now encouraging Yukon to continue following health regulations, noting it could still be some time before changes to restrictions are made. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
No active COVID cases in Yukon

Hanley highlights concerns over variants, encourages vaccinations

Most Read