Montreal shelter organizations call on province for more financial aid during crisis

Coronavirus outbreak: Montreal shelter organizations call on Quebec for more financial aid during crisis
The City of Montreal has put in place several measures to help the homeless amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but now local shelters are calling on the province to provide financial aid. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports.

After the city of Montreal said it will step up measures to protect the city’s most vulnerable, Montreal shelter organizations called on the Quebec government to provide more financial aid as well.

“Donations are drying up and expenses are going up, so we’re in a bad situation,” said Matthew Pearce, Old Brewery Mission president and CEO.

Pearce is calling for more provincial funding from the Legault government.

READ MORE: Montreal races to create more shelters for homeless people amid coronavirus crisis

He said the Mission will be receiving some $50,000 as provincial relief for the month of March and April.

While the Mission will graciously accept the donation during these times, he said it’s not enough.

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“It is a far cry from what we need right now,” Pearce said.

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READ MORE: Quebec coronavirus cases soar past 4,000 as medical equipment shortage looms

With fundraising events cancelled and donations dried up, Pearce said the shelter’s main sources of revenue are dwindling.

Unforeseen costs have undercut the budget as more than $138,000 has been spent in COVID-19 related expenses, from medical equipment to staff.

“What other essential service is scrambling around to find donations to keep our front line services going? We really need the infusion of funds right away,” Pearce said.

Welcome Hall Mission executive director Sam Watts shares the same worry as the situation worsens. He hopes to avoid turning a health crisis into a humanitarian one. He said:

“At this point the funding hasn’t started to flow yet and that is a concern that we have.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s critical’: More than 200 charities call on feds for funding amid COVID-19

In March the federal government announced a $157-million relief package for the provinces’ shelters, along with an additional $75.5 million to address the needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness.

The government will also provide up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, including facilities in Indigenous communities, to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak. Watts said:

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“We need the funds now. We don’t need the funds next year. That will be too late.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Montreal public health releases COVID-19 numbers, breaks down cases by region