Hundreds of community groups across Quebec closed their doors today and took to the streets across the province. Members of these organizations that support immigrants, the homeless, youth and people with disabilities, among others, are speaking out against the lack of financial support they’re receiving from the provincial government.
They say after playing a large role in providing key services throughout the pandemic, employees and volunteers are running out of steam, and are tired of broken promises made by the Quebec government.
“There was promises of advancing the workings of a gradually increasing our funding will be more adequate for the poor funding and that has been halted. We’re expecting a government action plan from community groups and that also has been halted,” said Commit to the Community Sector Campaign spokesperson Diana Lombardi.
Last Wednesday, the government adopted a motion to recognize the contributions of the community sector towards the social and economic transformation of Quebec.
However, demonstrators say when there is a lack of financial support, words only go so far. Instead, they would like to see the government invest $460 million for underfunded community groups.
“They probably only have about half of what they actually are needing in able to offer proper working conditions, prevent burnout among groups, keep also their staff and relief for programs that could help people to do work with,” said Lombardi.
Monday’s demonstration is the first of a series of pressure tactics by community groups that include closures and strikes that Lombardi says will take place until they get proper financial support.
In an statement to Global News, Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, says work on the action plan continues. Boulet adds that as part of the 2021-2022 budget, the government announced $174.9 million over five years to support community organizations.
“They always tell us we are so good to use this, so little money to do so much, but now I cannot do much more,” said Maison des jeunes du Plateau co-manager Simon Gagné.
Gagné said the Maison des jeunes du Plateau has three open job postings, but he is having trouble finding anyone who wants the job because salaries in the community sector are low.
“We are paid a little bit of a few dollars more than the minimum wage. And it’s really not the greatest,” he said.
After 15 years in the profession, the youth worker doesn’t know how much more he can give if the government doesn’t take community groups seriously.