Ontario’s Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek got a first-hand look at two important agencies in Barrie Friday, including one that is looking for provincial help to expand.

Jaczek heard a clear call for help from officials at the Barrie Women and Children’s Shelter. The province pays for 27 beds at the shelter, but this past summer they were often over capacity.

“Over 55 days we were over 27, that’s a lot,” said Lynda Muir, the shelters executive director.

That has put a strain on everything from the food supply to the staff members who help victims.

“We don’t have extra staff, so it’s 1 person with 30 women and children in the house,” said Muir.

The minister didn’t pledge new money for the shelter, but promised to keep an open ear to a problem that isn’t going away.

“We will receive any particular application and study it carefully,” said Jaczek when asked what is the government’s plan to alleviate the challenges the shelter is facing.

The shelter doesn’t turn away women who show up looking for help, but officials say the length of the shelter stays is steadily increasing to an average of three months.

With Barrie’s growing population shelter officials say more space is desperately needed now.

Jaczek also attended the grand opening of a new building for Simcoe Community Services which provides services and programs for people with development disabilities.

The new centre brings all of agencies programs under one roof.

The province provided $288, 000 toward the $1 million project.

- With a report from CTV Barrie's Brandon Gonez