Dozens of people marched through downtown Montreal Friday night to shed light on the growing problem of homelessness.
During the 27th “Nuit des sans-abri,” protesters asked for more funding for social housing and the implementation of safe injection sites in Montreal.
Advocates said homelessness is spreading.
“Not only downtown, but in Côte-des-Neiges, in the West Island, in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve,” Pierre Gaudreau, the coordinator of RAPSIM, said. The group represents about 100 organizations working with the homeless.
“There is good news though because some moves are being made by some governments,” Gaudreau added.
Back in June, the federal government announced it was giving the province $17 million over two years to tackle homelessness.
This is the first time Ottawa has invested into the homelessness fund since the 1990s.
“It’s helping to catch up but it’s not sufficient,” Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, the NDP’s housing critic, said.
Others at the march agreed and said money is at the heart of the problem.
They insisted the provincial government needs to step up.
“What we’re seeing at the Quebec government is more and more cuts in these programs,” Gaudreau said. “The number of social units for social housing have been cut from 3,000 to 1,500.”
“Maybe it’s not moving fast enough for them, for the organization,” Quebec Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois said.
“I repeat it, there is no cuts. When we came in, there was $8 million for the provincial government, now we’re having $13 million.”
At the municipal level, the Coderre administration has developed a five-year homelessness plan and appointed a protector for the homeless.
In spite of all the efforts, the streets of Montreal paint the portrait of need, a need thousands of people who live on the streets hope the government acts on.