A homeless rights group filed a motion on Friday to force Quebec to exclude the homeless from curfew “urgently” pending “a decision on the merits.”
The Superior Court must hear the request for a stay on Monday.
The Traveling Legal Clinic (CJI) considers that the curfew is “constitutionally invalid and ineffective” since it violates the rights protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by being applied to people experiencing homelessness.
“For some of these people, respecting the curfew cannot be done without suffering serious prejudice from it while others are simply unable to comply”, denounces Me. Bruce johnston in his request.
He adds that maintaining the curfew against them is “unnecessary, arbitrary, disproportionate and cruel”.
“The curfew causes serious and irreparable harm that is not justifiable in a free and democratic society,” says Johnston.
Under Decree 2-2021, anyone who travels on public roads between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., at curfew time, is liable to a fine ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 6,000.
The organization points out that the government has already provided exemptions to the decree, in particular for people who walk their dogs and those who must obtain health care.
Earlier this week, the Quebec government said it did not plan to exempt homeless people from the driving ban after 8 p.m. The issue has been widely debated in the last few days after the tragic death of Raphael André, an indigenous homeless man who had taken refuge in a chemical toilet during the night from Saturday to Sunday.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Lionel carmant, asserted that such an exception “would add complexity to the application of the curfew”. Francois Legault added, at a press conference on Tuesday, that “anyone could say he’s homeless. “
“By providing exceptions for obtaining professional pharmacy products and services, for obtaining care … the Quebec government has shown flexibility to the detriment of simpler application of the decree by the police forces. », Emphasizes Me Johnston.
The lawyer thus questions the government’s decision not to add homeless people to this list.
Critics from all sides
“No one wants to put people experiencing homelessness to justice,” said the Prime Minister. He says he trusts the police who, according to him, do not do it on purpose to hand out fines to the homeless.
However, many Quebec organizations that help people experiencing homelessness have denounced this decision. The opposition in Quebec, the federal Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller, and the mayoress of Montreal, Valerie Plante, are also in disagreement with the Legault government.
The mayoress also implored Quebec to make an exception for the homeless, saying that the measure increased the insecurity of homeless people in the metropolis. The shelters “overflow” some nights, despite the “record number” of beds available, according to Valérie Plante.
They are struggling to meet the needs of their customers in compliance with health rules, while outbreaks are increasing. Since the beginning of December, Montreal has registered 192 cases among the homeless and their responders.
A hundred new beds in shelters
The opening of two new shelters for the homeless in the metropolis should help to overcome this problem.
The Pierre-Charbonneau Center opened its doors on Friday. It already accommodates around 40 people in a homeless situation and could accommodate up to 112 men and women seven days a week, 24 hours a day, from Monday.
The second center, the Royal Victoria Hospital, is expected to be able to open on Monday.