As of the beginning of January, Legault’s government set a curfew that lasted from eight pm until five am and that would be in place for at least a month. However, that date has inevitably been extended. With this strict rule in place, whose monetary penalty ranges from one to six thousand dollars, came a series of exceptions in order to accommodate people. Exceptions for front line health care workers who work late hours as well as those who finish a late shift and have difficulty making it home before eight pm. In addition to these, you even have the option to walk your dog past eight pm, as long as it’s in a one-kilometre radius of your house. But what if you don’t have somewhere to stay? Despite these exceptions, the Legault government refused to exempt the homeless from this curfew.
Many found it unfair when the Legault government refused to exempt homeless people from the consequences of the curfew and even went as far to claim that there are enough homeless shelters for everyone, even though there’s not. There have never been enough beds and homeless shelters have already been struggling greatly due to the pandemic. As a result of the curfew, many homeless shelters aren’t even allowed to be open for twenty-four hours There’s also the fact that many homeless shelters have had COVID outbreaks and therefore, forced to reduce their capacity. However, things escalated with the tragic death of Raphael Andre, a man who froze to death in a portable toilet outside the Open-Door shelter that was forced to close their doors at 9:30pm.
This man was killed as a result of Legault’s inability to care for the homeless population of Quebec. In a statement regarding the death of this man, the Premier still refused to exempt the homeless from the curfew claiming that if he does this “anyone can pretend to be homeless”. This is an enraging and insensitive reply. Who would want to pretend to be freezing to death in the middle of night just to be outside for a couple of extra hours? How does one even pretend to do that?
The homeless population was finally freed from the consequences of this curfew by a Superior Court judge. Judge Chantal Masse ruled that since those who are homeless have no place to go, that the curfew should not apply to them. Even Mayor Valérie Plante applauded the ruling, for she too was one of the many people attempting to have the government change its mind.
The fact that this decision had to be overturned by the Superior Court just goes to show how much the Quebec government does not care for the homeless population and attempts to profit off of their struggles. Not to mention that this curfew brought along massive criticism from those who don’t even have a right to complain. It’s one thing to be discouraged about the fact that late night drives are now illegal and yes, being at home all day every day is emotionally and physically tiring, however, while cases have gone down, they haven’t gone down significantly. We shouldn’t even be going out anyways and for those who are going as far as saying “cancel the curfew” just so you can go on your midnight run to McDonalds, be thankful you have a safe place to stay overnight because many people don’t.
By Isabella Del Grosso