The Montreal community group - RIOCM - called out Quebec on Monday saying that the metropolis' community sector is chronically underfunded and that the government needs to invest an additional $100 million per year.

"The groups must fight every day to stay open," said Regroupement intersectoriel des organismes communautaires de Montréal coordinator Marie-Andrée Painchaud-Mathieu at a news conference.

She was accompanied by representatives of the three main opposition parties.

According to the RIOCM, half of the 531 organizations it represents receive less than $160,000 per year, and the fifth only $100,000, which "represents two salaries."

Painchaud-Mathieu also said that one-time investments, "through emergency funds or project-based funding," create even more problems.

"We get caught hiring contract workers, and as soon as we train them, they leave, because that's the end of the funding," she said, adding that "salaries are ridiculously low," and that staff is always on shift.

She said that almost every year, the National Assembly votes a motion to commend the work of community organizations, but would like the words to be met with funds.

"Thank you for the thanks, but now we have to get the money," she said.

OPPOSITION SUPPORT

Community organizations "play an essential role in a lot of critical issues that François Legault ignores, denies, or blames on the pandemic, whether it's housing, mental health, seniors, homelessness, or financial insecurity," said Quebec Liberal Party MNA Frantz Benjamin. "It's time we were able to recognize these organizations as essential."

He also cited bureaucratic issues as a recurring problem, saying he has seen "organizations that spend 20 to 30 per cent of their time doing paperwork."

"They are more than useful, they are partners," said Québec Solidaire health critic Vincent Marissal.

He said many people from his riding come to ask for help in his office.

"We could not help them if we did not have the community organizations," said Marissal.

He criticized the government that "this wall that has been erected between the government and the community."

Parti Québécois leader Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon criticized the Legault government's "veneer and surface politics".

"They are always very tempted by ad hoc announcements that allow them to make political communications," he said, attributing this to the "non-recurring, poorly targeted, hard-to-reach nature" of funding.

"This is the bare minimum that is being asked for this morning, to allow hundreds of organizations to do their work minimally," he concluded.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 7, 2022.