OTTAWA -- Canada's Minister of Indigenous Services criticized Francois Legault's refusal to exempt homeless people from curfew rules following the death of an Indigenous man earlier this week. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Minister Marc Miller commented on the death of Raphael Andre, the Innu man found in a chemical toilet in Montreal.

The Minister began the weekly news briefing on the number of COVID-19 cases in Indigenous communities by offering his condolences to Andre's relatives.

"A tragedy like this could have been avoided," he said.

He added that the tragedy could have been avoided. Asked to comment on premier Legault's decision to impose the 8 p.m. curfew on everyone, including the homeless, the minister said he would have liked to see more flexibility, more humanity.

He said he sided with Mayor Valerie Plante's camp, who asked for an exemption to Quebec's curfew for the homeless in her city. The request was denied.

"You have to treat them with humanity,"he said of the homeless. "A law that forces a curfew and forces someone to make a decision to take refuge in a chemical toilet, of course, goes to the heart of the debate. We must show more humanity, in my opinion."

Miller also said that what led to the man's death on the streets of Montreal was not a lack of resources.

According to Miller, all levels of government have failed in their duties in this case.

In addition, the Minister said there was a "glimmer of hope" after the decision of Montreal public health to vaccinate the homeless population, as a priority. He pointed out that 925 doses have been reserved for this group which finds itself in an environment where outbreaks are increasing.

Ottawa reports 5,571 active cases of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. This brings the total number of cases to 13,873 in Indigenous communities since the start of the pandemic, and 120 people have died.

There are no statistics for Indigenous people living off reserve.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.