homeless Montreal amnesty curfew fines tickets COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 & the curfew on the homeless in Montreal

A vaccination campaign is beginning and a petition is circulating calling for amnesty during the curfew.

On Wednesday, the city of Montreal announced a COVID-19 vaccination campaign, revealing that 114 cases of the virus had been reported among homeless people and 68 among those who work with them since early December. In the initial phase of the vaccination campaign, 560 people will be immunized in an effort to control outbreaks, with an additional 1,440 vaccines to be administered later. According to a CBC report, community groups have been urging the Quebec government to prioritize vaccines for the homeless.

The curfew, which has now been in effect across Quebec for five nights, has exacerbated problems for the homeless in Montreal, including potential exposure to COVID-19. The city’s shelters, which in some cases have had to reduce available beds due to virus outbreaks, are either full or close to capacity, and even emergency beds designated for the homeless in temporary shelters are scarce.

Homeless advocates including Nakuset of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal and Resilience Montreal shelter have called for amnesty for the homeless for as long as the curfew lasts, and Montreal lawyer Dylan Young has volunteered to contest any tickets given to the homeless. Unfortunately, despite assurances from provincial and municipal government officials and police forces that this would not happen, homeless people have received fines for breaking curfew in Montreal and other parts of Quebec this week.

Mayor Valérie Plante said during the Wednesday press conference that 150 police “interventions” with the homeless have occurred in the city this week, the vast majority of which were limited to finding shelter. She also noted that 150 more emergency beds will soon be made available, adding to the 1,366 already in place. ■

To sign a petition calling for amnesty from curfew fines for the homeless, please click here.

For the latest news updates, please visit the News section.