1,000 community groups close doors to protest government cuts
More than 1,000 social and community groups were closed again Tuesday as workers protested cuts they say make it difficult to provide care and services.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the premier's office in downtown Montreal for what they say is just the beginning of action that is gathering momentum.
They say Quebecers can expect to see more protests over the next few months, adding that budget cuts are forcing a number of groups and organizations to close their doors permanently.
“We simply don't have the money, and we don't want to close, but we want to make sure that the people we're working with get the services they need and deserve,” explained Karine Mygiane Jean-Francois community relations manager of Passages Shelter, a space with 16 beds for young women who are coming off the streets. The shelter is occupied year-round.
Passages Shelter is one of 1300 community and social groups across the province, including up to 300 in Montreal that closed their doors Monday and Tuesday in protest.
“Today is a very important day because we're all together here saying the same thing. We need more support,” said Jean Panet Raymond of Vivre Saint-Michel en Sante.
Women's groups, food banks, and those working with youth, employment, families, education and the mentally disabled all say that money is too tight.
“We're not able to offer the services we're supposed to offer, so it's very frustrating for us and we're very worried about the people we serve as a clientele,” said Dorotha Auger of the Friendship Volunteer Association.
Many organizations say the future is uncertain and that funding under the provincial liberals has been cut or stagnant.
“Our funding hasn't moved in so many years, and the cost of living keeps on increasing, it's as if we're moving backward,” said Diana Lombardi of RAFSSS, a network that provides support for women.
Manon Deschenes of the Quebec Lesbian Network said she worries their group will be forced to close.
“We don't have our renewal for next year, so in five months, it's ending we don’t even know if we're going to survive,” said Deschenes.
That uncertainty has rallied them into action.
We really can't imagine that this is going to stop today. This is probably the beginning of a movement that is going to get larger and larger,” said Lombardi.
“There's a momentum now,” added Panet Raymond. “We have to follow through on this.”