From January 1, 2024, a new regulation will be implemented in some Montreal libraries: staff can now be transferred or welcome visitors whose “disturbance of personal hygiene of staff and other users” said Vice.
The amount of fines will be 350 to 1,000 dollars (320 to 910 euros) for the first violation, 2,000 dollars (1,820 euros) for a repeated violation, then increase to 3,000 dollars (2,730 euros) for three or more violations.
A measure initiated by Valérie Plante, the mayor of Montreal, which is justified in a tweet: “It should be recognized that library staff experience dangerous and complex situations, which require better management. We will provide a support guide to managers that will allow them to apply the changed regulations at all times in a humane, sensitive and respectful manner.
“You make poverty illegal and it’s disgusting”
John Tessier, founder of the Advocacy for Montreal association dedicated to helping the homeless, criticized: “This is another attack on the homeless. The city must find a solution to the problem, for example by opening more day centers or creating more social housing. These homeless people are just trying to escape the cold, and libraries are a place where they can be quiet and unnoticed: that’s all they want, they don’t go there with the intention of disturbing others.”
He followed: “Those who receive only $750 a month in welfare cannot pay the fines: you make poverty illegal, and that is disgusting.”
Eve Lagacé, director of the Association of Public Libraries of Quebec, stated: “I would rather have more investment to manage the situation more quickly than external policies. In regions with a lot of homeless people and social workers, some libraries collaborate with organizations in the community: we have observed beneficial effects, both among people with difficulties and also among the staff.