Open Door shelter allowed to reopen overnight in wake of man's death in Montreal
MONTREAL -- Montreal shelter The Open Door has resumed its 24-hour operation just over a week after homeless man Raphael Andre froze to death just steps away from the entrance.
Andre had spent time at the Parc Ave. shelter that day, but due to provincial health regulations, the shelter was forced to ask him to leave.
At the time, Montreal authorities said they were trying to find a way to allow the shelter to remain open overnight as per their regular schedule. On Sunday, the shelter resumed its 24-hour service.
“Thank you to everyone who supported us and the people we serve, your voices have been heard,” wrote the shelter in a post to social media. “Thanks also to the [city of Montreal].”
The newly outfitted shelter has 25 cots arranged between large dividers the city helped install.
Prior to the change, public health had told the shelter to have no one there after 9:30 p.m., and just 25 during the day, according to staff, despite a province-wide curfew in the city of 8 p.m., forcing everyone off the street.
Andre had to spend the night on the street, and froze to death overnight inside a portable toilet.
"Raphael was one of the last persons out of the door every night," said John Tessier, the Open Door coordinator. "Often when we have to send people out of here we don't know if we're going to see them again the next morning."
OUTCRY OVER TICKETING
Meanwhile, the pressure has been mounting on Quebec Premier Francois Legault to adjust the province wide curfew to exempt homeless people.
On Monday, a group of legal aid lawyers requested an injunction against the policy, saying that homeless people were receiving tickets despite the government’s promise that police would opt not to fine people without the means to pay.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante has also requested the curfew not apply to the homeless, along with federal lawmaker Mark Miller.
But, Quebec Premier François Legault said no, responding that if the homeless get an exception, other Quebecers might pretend they're homeless when stopped by police after 8 p.m.
VACCINATIONS AT THE OPEN DOOR
On Friday, several people received doses of the coronavirus vaccine at the Open Door.
Social service workers were among the first to receive the vaccine, next in line after those working in long-term care homes.
Approximately 500 homeless people received a shot by the end of last week, according to Montreal's public health director Dr. Mylène Drouin.
Meantime, Tessier is renewing calls for on-site COVID-19 testing to prevent another outbreak
"We'd love to have testing once a week, or once every couple of weeks. We know it's possible, let's just get it done," he said.
- With files from CTV News Montreal's Matt Gilmour