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Advocates say at least six Montreal homeless people ticketed for curfew offences in first week

Click to play video 'Petition asks Quebec government to exempt the homeless from the curfew' Petition asks Quebec government to exempt the homeless from the curfew
Petition asks Quebec government to exempt the homeless from curfew – Jan 16, 2021

A week after Quebec’s COVID-19 curfew came into effect, there are multiple calls for improvements to the restriction, especially when it comes to homeless people.

According to the Réseau d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM), a least six people were fined in week one of Quebec’s COVID-19 curfew.

“It’s mostly people that use drugs that were going to use harm reduction services, or were going to a shelter or eating centre,” said Joannie Veilleux, a community organizer with RAPSIM.  “Even if a police intervention doesn’t end in a ticket, some people are being roughed up,” she said.

Montreal Police had no comment on Saturday and a spokesperson told Global News more information would be available on Monday.

Calls continue to grow louder for the Legault government to exempt homeless people from the curfew. An official National Assembly petition presented by Parti Québecois MNA Véronique Hivon has over 8,000 signatures. All opposition parties support the idea.

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READ MORE: Opposition party wants homeless people exempt from Quebec curfew

“I believe that the government showed how much they don’t understand the reality of homelessness when they decided that they would be subject to the curfew,” Hivon told Global News on Satuday.

“It’s wasted energy. We’re in a crisis and we need to be efficient,” Liberal MNA Paule Robitaille said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant told Global News there is no exemption being looked at by the government for homeless people right now.

“Police are sensitive to the situation being lived by homeless people, and they are doing a good job,” Sarah Bigras said.

Though he says ticketing homeless people for breaking curfew is a “bad policy,” the CEO of Old Brewery Mission said he thinks officers have done a good job so far.

“Curfew has to be implemented as a policy in a way which is really humanitarian in its approach. I say, so far, so good,” Hughes told Global News.

Meanwhile on Saturday, a group of volunteers from Islamic Relief got together at a Montreal mosque to try to make things easier for the most vulnerable.

“We’re here assembling winter kits for the homeless,” Melissa Draou said,

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Inside the care packages are some hygiene essentials and some cold weather essentials.

READ MORE: Open during curfew: Montreal pediatric hospitals urge parents not to wait to seek emergency care

“There are hats gloves, socks, scarves, blankets, heat packs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, other basic stuff for hygiene,” Draou explained.

All the packages were to be sent to the Old Brewery Mission.

“It’s exactly what we need at this time of year, and we’re incredibly grateful to Islamic Relief for that,” Hughes said.