Emergency services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week Men: 514-798-2244 | Women: 514-526-6446

Homelessness in Montreal: The Old Brewery Mission on the Frontline of the 5th Wave of the Pandemic

19 January 2022

As the Omicron variant hits the homelessness sector, the need for frontline staff is greater than ever. Since the beginning of the year, nearly 500 people experiencing homelessness in Montreal have tested positive for COVID-19.

Émilie Fortier, Director of Services at our St-Laurent Campus, gives a tour of the temporary facilities at the Montreal Soccer Stadium. Her team worked hard to make sure the facility could quickly accommodate people who had nowhere else to go.

Insufficient resources

On January 9, in collaboration with the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, our CEO James Hughes and Émilie Fortier, Director of Services at our St-Laurent Campus (CSL), sounded the alarm. Since last June, the Mission had been advocating for an increase in the number of beds and services adapted to people experiencing homelessness. The available beds were considered insufficient, even before the arrival of the cold weather and the explosion of cases of COVID-19 due to Omicron.

“People experiencing homelessness are ten times more likely to end up in intensive care and five times more likely to die,” says James Hughes. From December 26 to January 1, outbreaks occurred in 27 homeless-serving facilities in the city.

The Montreal Soccer Stadium has been temporarily transformed into an emergency shelter. It is managed by the Old Brewery Mission team in collaboration with our partners in the community, including the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, the Canadian Red Cross, and the STM.

Montreal Soccer Stadium Turned into a Red Zone

The Old Brewery Mission’s appeal has been heard. In January11, Mayor Valérie Plante announced it would take over the Montreal Soccer Stadium, as an additional 320-bed shelter for homeless people with COVID-19. Cots, showers and meals are provided. The average stay is one week.

The Old Brewery Mission team has been dispatched to the site, but there is a serious lack of staff across our services. We are therefore calling on all those who would like to lend a hand. “We are looking for people who have experience in psychosocial support, counselling, administration or working with people experiencing homelessness. We will welcome them and provide practical training,” adds Émilie Fortier. It should be noted that these people must be doubly vaccinated. Protective equipment will be provided.

On January 13, Old Brewery Mission President and CEO James Hughes (pictured left) participated in a press event announcing the opening of the Montreal Soccer Stadium to accommodate the homeless in quarantine. To the right of Mr. Hughes are Chantal Rouleau, Minister responsible for the Metropolis and the Montreal region, Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal, Pascal Mathieu, Vice-President, Quebec – Canadian Red Cross and Richard Liebmann, Director and Coordinator of Civil Security for the Montreal Fire Department.

To join our team, renowned for its compassion, resilience and energy, send us your CV to the following address: ressourceshumaines@missionoldbrewery.ca.

You can also support our essential
work by making a donation.

The Old Brewery Mission conducted about 30 interviews to raise awareness of this difficult situation. Read more:

Froid et COVID-19: « on est dans une crise humanitaire » avertit un refuge pour itinérants, Métro, January 16

Froid extrême et pandémie, une “vraie tempête” à gérer en itinérance, TVA Nouvelles, January 16

Plus de places nécessaires pour les itinérants à Montréal, TVA Nouvelles, January 15

Un nouveau refuge pour sans-abris atteints de la Covid 19, La Presse, January 14

Un nouveau refuge d’urgence devant la flambée des cas de COVID-19, Le Devoir, January 13

Soccer stadium converted into shelter for homeless people with COVID-19, Global News, January 13

Plus de 300 sans-abris atteints du coronavirus en quarantaine au Stade de soccer, Radio-Canada, January 13

Itinérance, froid et Covid: une équation complexe, Radio Canada, January 11

Montréal se dirige vers un « scénario catastrophique », La Presse, January 11

Entrevue avec Émilie Fortier : L’aide aux itinérants en période de pandémie, Radio Canada, January 10

Dernières nouvelles

Inscrivez-vous à notre infolettre