By Tracey Arial
The Quebec government announced a $37,000 grant over five years to the Laval food-bank Relais communautaire last Friday.
The announcement was made by Laval des Rapides Minister Saul Polo on behalf of Lucie Charlebois, Quebec’s Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health.
“I’m happy that this national measure will help people in my riding,” said Polo.
“We have a certain geographic area where there are pockets of homelessness and poverty, and this organization is in that area. People come to the Relais communautaire on a weekly basis.”
The Relais communautaire isn’t only a food bank. It also offers welcome and referral services for immigrants, community meals, meals-on-wheels and collective kitchens. It also serves as a pick-up location for Good Food Boxes. The organization celebrated 30 years of existence last summer.
Polo says that many of the people who use the Relais remind him of his own family when they first came to Quebec.
“My family had support from Sun Youth when I was young,” he said. “I know that sometimes people need some support to get out of their situation.”
The new money comes from a $4.6 million homelessness initiative announced by the Quebec Government on Dec. 7 to help combat a growing problem. The latest Quebec initiative puts its total budget for battling homelessness in the province at $12.7 million. Another $42 million will go to social housing.
A study released last summer by the Mental Health Commission of Canada said that 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness annually. How many of them live in Laval is hard to quantify given the transient nature of the population.
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