Winter service levels to be maintained says coalition of Montreal homeless shelters

    MONTREAL, Dec. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Montreal's three largest homeless
shelters - Old Brewery Mission, Maison du Père and Welcome Hall Mission -
expect to be able to provide all of the usual services to the city's homeless
this winter, easing recent concerns of cutbacks due to a shortfall in
government funding.
    The uncertainty caused by the lack of provincial funding forced the
coalition of shelters to withdraw a few months ago from the emergency winter
shelters committee set up by the Quebec government agency that administrates
local health and social services. Last month, in what the shelters termed "a
last-resort" effort to seek adequate funding, they requested a meeting with
Quebec minister of health and social services Philippe Couillard, and
following the session, the minister announced $1.035 million in additional
funding to the three shelters. The coalition was seeking $3.7 million of
recurring annual funding to meet the growing operational costs of providing a
combined 548 overnight beds and meals for their homeless clientele.
    "While we deem the $1.035 million in funding to be inadequate, we
recognize it as a gesture of good will and good faith by the minister, and the
shelters are confident the situation is going to improve," said James Hughes,
Director General of the Old Brewery Mission. "We, unfortunately, will still be
obliged to incur a deficit in order to maintain our usual level of service."
    "Along with the additional funding, the government has pledged to do
better in the next budget, and it has also set up a working group to address
the issue. In the interim, we are going to do everything we can to ensure the
quality of services we provide is maintained", said Geneviève Grégoire,
Executive Director of Maison du Père. "We will be returning to the committee
this week."
    The additional $1.035 million in funding raises the average per diem to
close to $12 per bed, an increase over the $5 per day prior to the latest
subsidy. The three shelters had asked the provincial government to raise the
subsidy to $24 a day, which is still far short of the $61.70 daily per capita
that men's shelters in Toronto derive from combined provincial and municipal
    "The work group set up by the ministry and headed by Russell Copeman, the
MNA for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, met for the first time last week," remarked Cyril
Morgan, Executive Director of Welcome Hall Mission. "There is a lot of good
will around the table, and hopefully these good intentions will lead to a
higher level of funding for homeless shelters. We definitely intend to
continue to press the government on this matter."

For further information:

For further information: Johanne Lépine, Torchia Communications, (514)
288-8290 ext 234, ; Julie Tremblay, Torchia
Communications, (514) 288-8290 ext 214,

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