Quebec COVID-19 Curfew: No exception for homeless that result in death.
The Quebec government announced on January 9, 2021, that officially Quebec is on Maximum Alert (red zone) from January 9 up to and including February 8, 2021. As a result, a curfew is in effect. Between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., stay at home is compulsory for all Quebecers except in cases that justify travel.
During this curfew enforcement, Police officers able to intervene when Quebecers are found to be outside their homes. Those who are caught outside during the curfew are liable to fines ranging from $1000 to $6000 if they are unable to adequately justify why they are outside their home. No exception for homeless people.
Tragically, a 51-year-old Raphael Andre who was a homeless Innu man froze to death. Early on Sunday, Andre’s body was found in a portable toilet next to the shelter he had stayed at the day before. He was a regular at the Open Door shelter for a meal and a shower. After COVID-19 outbreak surfaced at the Montreal’s shelter on Parc ave., they were asked by health authorities to stop allowing people to use the beds or to be in the shelter at all after 9:30. John Tessier, the intervention worker at the Open door shelter said that Andre would have been safe if the shelter had been open as usual because the shelter used to allow people inside all night, but not to sleep. Montreal temperatures dropped below freezing on Saturday evening into Sunday morning. Andre had sought refuge in the portable toilet because he had no shelter during the curfew. He was forced to be outside and passed away in a public toilet when he could have been inside in safety.
Montreal Police have determined Raphael’s death was not criminal.
Andre’s death is calling out Premier François Legault to add homeless people into the Curfew’s exemption list. Unfortunately, he refused to grant a curfew exemption for the homeless people.
“If we put in the rules the fact that a homeless person could not receive a ticket, then anybody could say, ‘I’m a homeless person, so you don’t have the right to give me a ticket.”
In response to Andre’s death and refusal to exempt homeless people from the provincewide curfew, Federal Indigenous services minister Marc Miller asked Premier Legault to treat the homeless with dignity and show more humanity.
“A law that imposes a curfew and forces someone to make a decision to take refuge in a chemical toilet, obviously, that goes to the heart of the debate,” Miller told reporters. “We must show more humanity, in my opinion.”
Justice Chantal Masse of the Quebec Superior Court ruled that Quebec’s homeless do not have to abide by the province’s curfew.
On January 26, 2021, Justice Chantal Masse of the Quebec Superior Court ruled that the curfew discriminates and disproportionately hurts the homeless and suspended the application that imposed a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the homeless. This means the curfew no longer applies to people who are homeless until the matter can be debated on its merits in court.
Junior health minister Lionel Carmant said that the Quebec government have no intention to challenge the court order.