On Thursday January 7th, Quebec Public Security Minister and Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault announced that the police will have the power to issue tickets to people violating the 8 p.m. curfew without a valid reason.

Those caught outside between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. without a valid reason could face fines between $1,000 to $6,000. According to Premier Francois Legault, people must be subject to this strong curfew because it is essential in controlling the spread of the virus.

The new measure went into effect on Saturday January 10th, and will continue until February 8th.

Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec, released a statement on Friday addressing the Green Party’s concerns about the enforcement of the curfew and the government’s disproportionate response to the pandemic, favouring “business over social interactions.”

According to Alex Tyrrell’s statement, the Green Party of Quebec stands behind Legault and the public health authorities in their management of the pandemic, including the imposition of a curfew. However, the curfew alone will “not be sufficient.”  

Firstly, Tyrrell asserts that the government of Quebec has continuously favoured business over social interactions in its management of the pandemic. While Quebec residents have been confined to their homes, Tyrrell notes, the manufacturing and construction sectors have been permitted to continue their operations and to decide for themselves what is “essential” and what is not. In particular, despite the measures prohibiting people from having any guests in their home since October, retail shops remained open until December 24.

Although essential for preventing the spread of the virus, the confinement measures and curfew come with a “high social cost”, harming people’s well-being and mental health.

Therefore, the Green Party of Quebec believes that the construction and manufacturing industries must also do their part and should be shut down during this period. Otherwise, Quebec may still undergo “rising case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths”, in spite of the high social costs.

Moreover, the Green Party of Quebec is “deeply concerned” about how this curfew will be enforced. In allocating fines, the police have been given far too much discretionary powers and the criteria of who can circulate remains “far too ambiguous.”

“This chronic lack of oversight will lead to systemic discrimination against minorities who, as we all know, are targeted more often by police officers. The criteria should be crystal clear and the discretionary power should be abolished.”

– Alex Tyrrell, Leader of the Green Party of Quebec

In addition, the curfew will have “tremendous impacts” on the homeless population. The curfew also applies to homeless people, and municipalities are tasked with directing homeless people to shelters.

The Green Party of Quebec notes that although Legault maintains that there is space in emergency shelters, the front line organizations providing these services disagree. “There is not enough space and where there is space conditions are rough”, says Tyrrell. At all times, and especially during a pandemic, housing “should be considered a human right.”

In an interview with Ricochet Media, Nakuset, who oversees Resilience Montreal and the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, said that the shelters are “on the verge of collapse.” Right now, “all we can do is give people a bit of food, some clothes and send them back outside.”

Therefore, Alex Tyrrell suggests François Legault take possession of “hotels and other facilities” and transform them into permanent housing for the homeless population throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Regarding the $6,000 fines for violating sanitary measures, the Green Party of Quebec proposes that this amount be adjusted based on a person’s revenue.

“It makes absolutely no sense to ticket a person who makes minimum wage ($26k per year) 23% of their yearly income for being out past curfew. Wealthier people will be able to risk $6k tickets without worrying about paying their rent or buying food if they are caught.”

– Alex Tyrrell, Leader of the Green Party of Quebec

The Green Party of Quebec, therefore, upholds that fines should be reduced for low income individuals and increased for wealthy individuals, a “long-standing plank” of the party’s platform.

In conclusion, the Green Party of Quebec calls on all Quebeckers to continue following sanitary measures so that “we can save as many lives as possible” while waiting for the vaccine. “We all need to do our part,” Alex Tyrell adds, and this must include manufacturing and construction industries. For now, “we must have confidence in our public health authorities and do our part to save the lives of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Margaret Saville

Margaret Saville studies psychology and political science at McGill University in Montreal, and would like to pursue political journalism. She was born in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in Nelson, British Columbia. Her passions include environmentalism, literature and writing, and down-hill skiing. Margaret is committed to addressing social issues such as the climate change crisis, racial and gender inequality, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ rights, and advocating for mental health awareness.

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