Montreal’s community sector is asking for an additional $100 million a year


The Montreal community group – RIOCM – challenged Quebec on Monday, saying that the city’s community sector is chronically underfunded and that the government must invest an additional $100 million per year.

“Groups have to fight every day to stay open,” said the coordinator of the Intersectorial Regrouping of Community Organizations of Montreal, Marie-Andrée Painchaud-Mathieu, during a press conference.

She was accompanied by representatives of the three main opposition parties.

According to the RIOCM, half of the 531 organizations it represents receive less than $160,000 per year, and the fifth only $100,000, which “represents two salaries”.

Painchaud-Mathieu also said one-time investments, “via emergency funds or project-based funding,” create even more problems.

“We get caught hiring contract workers, and as soon as we train them, they leave, because that’s the end of the funding,” she said, adding that “the salaries are ridiculously low” and that staff are always on rotation.

She said that almost every year, the National Assembly passes a motion to salute the work of community organizations, but would like the words to be accompanied by funds.

“Thanks for the thanks, but now we have to find the money,” she said.

SUPPORT FOR THE OPPOSITION

Community organizations “play an essential role in many crucial issues that François Legault ignores, denies or blames on the pandemic, whether it’s housing, mental health, seniors, homelessness or financial precariousness,” said Quebec Liberal Party MP Frantz Benjamin. “It’s time we could recognize these organizations as essential.”

He also cited bureaucratic issues as a recurring problem, saying he’s seen “organizations that spend 20-30% of their time doing paperwork.”

“They are more than useful, they are partners,” said Quebec solidaire health spokesperson Vincent Marissal.

He says a lot of people in his riding come to his office for help.

“We couldn’t help them if we didn’t have the community organizations,” Marissal said.

He blamed the government for “this wall that has been erected between the government and the community”.

Parti Québécois leader Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon criticized the Legault government’s “veneer and surface policy”.

“They are always very tempted by one-off announcements that allow them to do political communication,” he said, attributing this to the “non-recurring, poorly targeted, difficult to reach nature” of funding.

“It is the bare minimum that is requested this morning, to allow hundreds of organizations to do their work in a minimal way,” he concluded.

— This report from The Canadian Press was first published in French on February 7, 2022.

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