The Superior Court of Quebec suspended, on Tuesday, the application of the decree on the curfew for the homeless, in the wake of the death of a homeless person in Montreal a little over a week ago.
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In her decision, Judge Chantal Masse ruled that the curfew, which requires all Quebecers to stay at their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., cannot apply to the homeless since they, by definition, do not have no residence.
In addition, the judge noted that several homeless “seek to hide from the police so as not to receive tickets” and “fear, for objective reasons, of contracting the COVID-19 virus in shelters, these being crowded in this winter period ”.
Moreover, many simply do not have access to shelters, for example because of drug problems, so that they have nowhere to go and must spend the night outside, she added.
Ms. Masse therefore ordered the suspension of the application of the decree for homeless people, thus inflicting a setback on the Legault government, which turned a deaf ear to the grievances of community groups who demanded an exception.
The request for exemption was made by Me Bruce Johnston of the Traveling Legal Clinic, who denounced the nonsense of forcing homeless people to stay at home.
The legal proceedings were launched in the wake of the death of Raphaël André, a 51-year-old Innu itinerant found dead in a chemical toilet. The man, who was the subject of an arrest warrant for breaching a promise to appear in connection with a threat charge, was likely seeking hiding from the police during the curfew.
His death a few steps from a refuge closed for the night had caused a wave of indignation, among others in the community, thus generating several calls for the homeless to be exempted from the decree ordering the curfew.
Prime Minister François Legault had rejected this proposal, arguing that anyone could pass themselves off as an itinerant, a remark that had wanted many criticisms.
“This decision will make life easier for people experiencing homelessness and for those working in the field who support them,” said the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, via her Twitter account.
This decision made an organization happy. Indeed, the Traveling Legal Clinic (CJI) sees this change in a positive light.
“The Traveling Legal Clinic is delighted with this decision which protects the rights and well-being of people experiencing homelessness in this time of pandemic,” she said in a statement. As the judgment is subject to appeal, no further comments will be made at this time. ”