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Homelessness has skyrocketed in Quebec. Which areas were hit the hardest?

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The number of people experiencing homelessness in Quebec has increased by a whopping 44 per cent since 2018, a new report has found.

In terms of sheer numbers, Montreal is by far the most affected, accounting for the majority of homeless people in Quebec.

But the rate of homelessness is rising at significant rates elsewhere in the province, spreading beyond the longtime trouble spots.

The report, conducted by Quebec's public health institute (INSPQ) and commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, compares headcounts on the night of Oct. 11, 2022, to those taken on April 24, 2018.

While it's not an exact representation of homelessness year-round, the findings paint a general picture of how the situation has progressed in Quebec.

DRAMATIC RISE IN NEARBY REGIONS

Homelessness in Montreal rose by 33 per cent (+1,033 people), a notable amount. But in regions like Outaouais, the Laurentians and Montérégie, the increase is particularly staggering.

The highest overall increase was measured in Outaouais, where Gatineau is located, at a whopping 268 per cent (+389 people).

That number was 109 per cent for the Laurentians (+202 people), home to off-island suburbs north of Montreal like Saint-Eustache and Mirabel. Montérégie, i.e. the South Shore, clocked in at a 98 per cent increase (+389 people).

Significant percentage increases were also recorded in Estrie (51 per cent), the Capitale-Nationale region (36 per cent), Lanaudière (35 per cent), Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean (26 per cent), and Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec (21 per cent).

On the lower end, Chaudière-Appalaches saw an increase of 16 per cent and Laval saw an increase of 6 per cent.

FIRST MONTREAL, THEN QUEBEC CITY

Montreal ranks the highest overall in numbers, with 4,690 heads counted on Oct. 11, 2022, representing 60 per cent of Quebec's total homeless population. Interestingly, Montreal's share of the overall homeless population was considerably higher in 2018 at 80 per cent.

The Capitale-Nationale region, which contains Quebec City, comes next at 927 unhoused people. Montérégie is close behind at 787 people, then Ouatouais at 706.

The total homeless population is lowest in Laval (219), Abitibi-Témiscamingue (157), and Côte-Nord (94).

A CLOSER LOOK AT DEMOGRAPHICS

The majority of people experiencing homeless in Quebec are between 30 and 49 years old (44.2 per cent), followed by 50 to 64 (29 per cent), and 18 to 29 (19.2).

Meanwhile, 67.2 per cent of those surveyed were cisgendered men and 29 per cent were women. Other gender identities were logged at 3.9 per cent, disproportionate to their overall representation in Quebec society (under 1 per cent).

The same disproportion exists for people who aren't heterosexual. While 85.9 per cent of respondents identified as straight, 3.1 per cent are homosexual, 6.1 per cent are bisexual and 4.9 per cent marked themselves as "other."

Additionally, 13 per cent of those surveyed in the report are of Indigenous origin, even though Indigenous people represent just 2.3 per cent of Quebec's overall population, according to the latest figures. 

The report also found Indigenous people are particularly present in outdoor spaces and emergency housing, and less so in transitional hosuing and therapy centres.

QUEBEC GRANTS ADDITIONAL FUNDING

On Thursday, Quebec announced it would add $15.5 million to its $4.5 million budget to address homelessness in the province.

Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant said the funding will go towards shelters in preperation for winter.

"It's the money needed to make every project that we have received happen," he said.

Opponents say that it's not enough.

"We need $40 million only for Montreal and we ask for concerted action with minister of housing, because we need to create new housing for different people in the street," said Quebec Solidaire MNA Etiene Grandmont.

Liberal MNA Elisabeth Prass said more solutions need to be considered to avoid a grim future.

"We would like to see an inter-ministerial committee in the government because its not just Minister Carmant, it's the housing minister, it's the health minister. There needs to be a concerted effort and there needs to be a response different from the one the government has given," 'she said.

Carmant will be attending the Union of Quebec Municipalities Summit on Homelessness on Friday in Quebec City, the first meeting between the mayors and the minister since Carmant advised them to lower the tone after many complained about the government's lack of response to the rising number of homeless people in the province.

Premier François Legault also hinted additional help could be announced in the November economic update.  

With files from The Canadian Press. 

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