As Montreal’s oldest and largest organization helping homeless men and women find safe haven and receive the vital services they need, the Old Brewery Mission is now working to ensure that the vulnerable it serves are not further limited from taking part in their communities as the vaccine passport was implemented Sept.1 across Quebec. The Suburban paid a visit to see what is being done.
“We’re relieved that homeless people have been exempted from having to show the passport at many non-essential services, but there’s no ID card identifying someone as homeless,” said James Hughes, Old Brewery Mission CEO. “If a homeless person is refused entry to services, who do they call? Who is responsible for intervening to prevent the refusal from recurring?”
One of the problems the Mission – and other organizations like it – faces, is the lack of clarity by the province as to the interpretation of the term ‘accommodation’ in the list of essential services. “We’re hoping it covers all forms of housing including temporary, transitional and permanent housing, and that someone visiting an apartment won’t have to show proof of vaccination. We urge the Quebec Government to clarify these important details,” added Hughes.
His team on the frontline are engaged in several initiatives. It’s printing out the passport at no less than two of its service points for individuals without a cellular phone and phone plan. At the Mission’s Café Mission Keurig®, a walk-in day centre is open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 4 pm, where homeless men and women can get help to obtain proof of vaccination. The Mission’s Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion (1301, De Maisonneuve Blvd. Est) is welcoming women experiencing homelessness 24/7. Mission staff and volunteers are also accompanying people to a nearby CLSC to obtain proof of vaccination.
One of Hughes priorities is to obtain clarity from the government on the list of non-essential services from which homeless people are exempted under the new regulation, as well as how it will be enforced given the challenges already faced by people experiencing homelessness in accessing certain services. The Mission continues to work with public health officials, notably the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montreal, to ensure people experiencing homelessness get vaccinated and have access to physical and mental health services adapted to their specific needs.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: https://www.thesuburban.com/news/city_news/hughes-leads-obm-in-multi-tiered-plan-to-help-homeless-deal-with-vax-passport-regs/article_a931ce7f-47ec-55bc-bdd9-0adf3aa1dd25.html