The Superior Court of Quebec on Tuesday suspended the application of the decree on the curfew for the homeless, in the wake of the death of a homeless person in Montreal just over a week ago.
In her decision, Judge Chantal Massé held that the curfew, which obliges all Quebecers to remain at their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., cannot apply to the homeless since they, by definition, do not have a 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 ”.
In fact, many simply do not have access to shelters, for example due to drug problems, so they have nowhere to go and have to spend the night outside, she added.
Mme Massé therefore ordered the suspension of the application of the decree for the homeless, inflicting a setback on the Legault government, which was turning a deaf ear to the grievances of community groups demanding an exception.
In doing so, homeless people run the greater risk of being fined between $ 1,500 and $ 6,000 if they are caught outside during the curfew period.
The mayoress of Montreal Valérie Plante, in favor of an exemption, was quickly delighted with the judgment. “This decision will make life easier for people experiencing homelessness and for those on the ground who support them,” she said on her Twitter account.
The request for exemption was made last Friday 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 breaking a promise to appear in connection with a threat charge, was presumably seeking hiding from the police during the curfew.
His death a few steps from a closed shelter 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 he had criticized many times.