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Homelessness: New count planned for 2024, says Lionel Carmant

The Minister responsible for Social Services, Lionel Carmant, has pledged to conduct a new homeless count in 2024.

He made the announcement on Friday morning at the Homelessness Summit of the Union des municipalités du Québec.

"It was my original intention to do it every two years. I wanted to do one (count) in 2020, but the pandemic has changed the situation... I would also like us to be able to decide today on the pace at which these counts should be carried out thereafter," the minister said in his speech.

Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand was also present at the event,and would like to see an annual count, and wants the results to be announced quickly.

"I'm waiting for the minister to explain why 2024. And if it's in 2024, we shouldn't have to receive the results 12 months later," said the mayor.

The last count dates back to Oct. 11 2022, but the results were unveiled last Wednesday.

This report shows that the number of homeless people in Quebec has increased by 44 per cent compared to 2018, the year of the previous count.

"If we don't have an annual count, how do we know that the actions we are taking are producing the desired results?" asked Marchand.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante welcomed the minister's proposal but pointed out that there are needs elsewhere.

"I think it's essential to have data. It allows us, the decision-makers, to make informed decisions, but at the same time, the current need in Montreal, but for all of Quebec, is housing," she said.

To gather the data, the Quebec Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) deployed hundreds of outreach workers, street workers and more than 1,000 volunteers during the night of Oct. 11, 2022, in 13 regions of Quebec.


Gatineau Mayor France Bélisle made a name for herself last week by questioning and criticizing Carmant.

In particular, she said that she was doing the minister's "job" for him. On Friday morning, when she arrived at the summit, Bélisle was more composed, but she still indicated that she was expecting some announcements from the minister.

"Someone said to me: 'Do you accept Mr. Carmant's outstretched hand?' I said: 'Of course, and I'll take his arm, too,'" she said.

The INSPQ report identified the shortage of affordable housing as one of the causes of the increase.

The report states that being "evicted from your dwelling, whether for non-payment of rent, repossession or any other reason," is a factor that contributes to the precarious situation of some people at risk of homelessness.

Eviction is the main reason given for losing a home.

Carmant was also asked about the absence of his colleague, the Minister for Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau.

"I don't manage her agenda ... The signal is that the government is present. I represent the government, and we're going to move forward," he said.

On Thursday, the minister announced $15.5 million in new money to deal with the significant increase in homelessness in Quebec. This sum is in addition to the $4.5 million already invested in the budget.

In all, the government will be allocating $20 million to consolidate and provide shelter places in preparation for winter. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 15, 2023. Top Stories

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