Joint measures with community partners to ensure better management of public spaces during the 2020-2021 winter period Photo credit : Mission Old Brewery/Christian Blais
Montréal, November 24, 2020 – In an effort to better support homeless people, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), the Old Brewery Mission, the Société de développement social (SDS), the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), the City of Montréal and the Government of Quebec are announcing a series of measures with the onset of cold weather.
An STM bus for the Old Brewery Mission
As part of a new agreement, the STM is offering the Old Brewery Mission a bus for free, and will ensure maintenance of the bus throughout its service life. The City of Montréal will cover the driver’s salary and fuel costs, whereas the CIUSSS of Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal has granted funding to cover the salary of the social workers over the winter period.
Nicknamed the Solidaribus, this wrapped bus will allow homeless people to benefit from increased shuttle service to emergency and other shelters, including the overflow unit located at Hôtel Place Dupuis, after the métro stations close at night.
As of November 30, the bus will travel the downtown streets, seven days a week, from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. the next day, with a Mission responder on board. The bus will facilitate the safe travel of some one hundred people each night who need a roof over their head, support services or a place to warm up. This service will be supplemented by the second shuttle bus that the Mission has already been operating for several years now during the busiest periods.
New mixed STM-SPVM-SDS patrol
Since November 23, a new specialized mixed STM-SPVM-SDS team has begun offering support to homeless people in an effort to direct them to the right resources. The creation of this patrol also provides second-line services to support the STM’s security and control inspectors and police officers from Équipe métro d’intervention et de concertation (ÉMIC). The patrol team, made up of a police officer, an inspector and an SDS social worker, will travel the streets in a vehicle wrapped in the ÉMIC colours, as needed.
Renewal of the two STM-SDS partnership agreements
The STM is also renewing its two partnership agreements with the SDS for another year. The STM will continue to financially support social workers in the métro as part of the service points for the homeless (PSI) available since 2012, along with various partners (city of Montréal, Fondation J. Armand Bombardier and Fondation de la corporation des concessionnaires d’automobiles de Montréal). The STM will also double the number of social workers who will join security and control inspectors as part of a front-line patrol team in the métro at night. This partnership will provide a social and community approach, and balance among the various clienteles across its network.
To better understand and meet the needs of homeless people, the STM’s security and control inspectors will also work alongside SDS responders as plainclothes social workers on evenings and weekends in the winter. This training will help them better understand the realities and issues that homeless people face. The STM inspectors will play a support role for people in need.
Since service points for the homeless (PSI) were first implemented with the help of SDS in 2012, the number of social mediation interventions has grown from 430 to 8,600 per year. In addition, more than 1,100 people have benefitted from the support offered by the team in the past eight years.
Moreover, the city of Montréal, the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal and the Montréal community network have put in place various winter measures to ensure that no one is forced to spend the night outside in cold weather. A total of 1,650 spots are available for people with no place to sleep. Homeless people can count on shuttle bus service for transportation to shelters, overflow units and warming stations located in various boroughs. These new services meet COVID-19 public health guidelines for homeless people. The details of the announcement made on October 29, 2020, can be found here.
QUOTES FROM STAKEHOLDERS
“The aim of this initiative is to promote harmonious co-existence among everyone who uses the Montréal métro system, as well as a climate of safety and social balance. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the collaboration between the STM, the Mission, the SDS, the City of Montréal, the SPVM and the Government of Quebec with regard to the various initiatives that we have put in place at our facilities. Collaboration and partnership are at the heart of our values,” says Philippe Schnobb, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the STM.
“Every winter, our shuttle bus service is a key part of Montréal’s winter measures. This year, with the challenges posed by the pandemic and the increasing number of people in need of our emergency services, we could not have managed without the generosity of our partners at the STM. This additional bus provides an essential service for thousands of homeless people and will help raise community awareness of the realities of homelessness, as well as the need to find sustainable solutions, such as access to housing,” says James Hughes, President and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission.
“Through increased investments by the STM and the City of Montréal in 2020-2021, SDS responders will have greater presence and visibility in the métro stations most used by homeless people, who will be able to count on the SDS and its partners to listen to them, provide them with immediate support and direct them to specialized resources. The SDS is also proud to be part of ÉMIC, a highly innovative initiative that will help us better respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged in our society,” adds Martin Petrarca, General Director of the Société de développement social (SDS).
“Concerted action within the missions and expertise of each of the participating organizations is crucial, and the creation of ÉMIC is a perfect example. Homeless people have different vulnerabilities that require respectful responses tailored to their needs and those of the people around them. The Mobile Reference and Intervention Team for Homeless Individuals is already doing outreach to connect with this clientele and direct them to appropriate services based on their needs. ÉMIC therefore brings added value to the SPVM’s service offering. It responds to a concrete need in the métro network and complements the multidisciplinary teams already in place. This initiative is part of the SPVM’s mission to ensure the safety of métro users and help foster Montrealers’ sense of safety,” explains Sylvain Caron, Director of the SPVM.
“The joint winter plan is the result of careful consideration following the first wave of COVID-19, which allowed us to identify new issues surrounding homelessness in the STM network and to provide an appropriate response that would help increase the safety of employees, customers and homeless people, while focusing on harmonious social co-existence and drawing on the organizational strengths of partners engaged in the initiative, which aligns with the spirit of the winter measures that the City of Montréal and the health network are rolling out,” says Montréal Mayor Valérie Plante.
“These initiatives show just how engaged we are as a group. It is crucial to adopt a consistent and concerted approach to managing the services offered to better support homeless people throughout the winter season. This type of partnership is highly desirable and speaks to the importance of integrating all the stakeholders involved in a broader perspective to ensure an adapted solution, especially given the health crisis that we are currently facing,” says Chantal Rouleau, Minister for Transport and Minister Responsible for the Metropolis and the Montréal Region.
About the Mission
Founded in 1889, the Old Brewery Mission is the largest resource in Quebec for homeless men, and among the largest in Canada for homeless women. It provides a range of programs and services at the forefront of the quest to end chronic homelessness. These include enhanced emergency services, adapted health, housing, and psychosocial support services, as well as physical and mental health programs. The Mission also leads research and public awareness initiatives that contribute to a better understanding of homelessness as a solvable social problem.
About the SDS
The Société de développement social (SDS) is the premier broker for social values in North America. It is a non-profit organization that acts as an intermediary between the private sector, the community sector and public organizations, with the aim of creating joint projects for social inclusion throughout Montréal.