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COVID-19: Montréal has been in a state of emergency for an entire year

26 mars 2021

Montréal, le 26 mars 2021 – Today marks one year since the state of emergency was first declared in Montréal, a first in the history of our city. In accordance with the Civil Protection Act, the executive committee has renewed the state of emergency on March 26, for a period of 5 days for the entire territory of Montréal. 

“The impacts of the health crisis we have been facing for over a year are continuing to affect us all. More than ever, your collective resilience is needed, which is why, since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been working towards taking every possible measure to support those who need it most. Although an entire year has gone by, we are staying the course and continue our relentless fight against COVID-19. And this is why we are able to have a positive outlook for Montréal's future,” stated Mayor Valérie Plante.

“Even if we can progressively anticipate the end of an impactful chapter of our collective history, we must not let our guard down. To achieve this, we continue to rely on the solidarity, mobilization and spirit of collaboration that drive our fellow citizens, employees, partners and all the stakeholders who play a role in this historic fight we have been taking on for a year now.  I would hereby like to express my gratitude to all those who, through their invaluable efforts, are contributing to restoring some sense of normalcy in our lives,” added Benoit Dorais, chair of the executive committee and member responsible for finances, human resources, legal affairs, property assessment and organisational performance.

The local state of emergency grants exceptional powers in order to respond to the current pandemic across the territory of the urban agglomeration of Montréal. In particular, it gives the urban agglomeration the power to mobilize the necessary resources and workforce to fight COVID-19. Since the very beginning of the pandemic, Montréal declared this special status in order to implement, along with its partners, initiatives aiming to support the different segments of its population.

The metropolis continues to collaborate closely with, the regional public health department and the healthcare and social services network in order to relay all health measures as they are announced, and to ensure that they are well understood by Montrealers. Montréal also contributes to rolling out prevention initiatives and to providing access to testing and vaccines.

Below is a series of measures taken during the past year in an effort to help Montrealers cope with the state of emergency.

Homelessness

Montréal joined forces with community organizations and other partners in order to offer homeless people some alternatives to the support structure that is normally in place. Setting up drop-in centres and temporary shelters, as well as distributing meals are some of the actions taken to help the most vulnerable. 

Housing

Despite the context of the current pandemic, Montréal has continued to increase the number of housing units available on its territory, to meet the diverse housing needs of its population and to strive to provide a roof for every person to be able to sleep under. The city has namely provided a wealth of information about every person's rights and resources in terms of housing, and has carried on its strategy for the purchase of social and community housing units.

Finances and the economy

Through its economic recovery plan, as well as the creation of various business support programs, the metropolis continues to provide financial support and consulting expertise to numerous Montréal businesses that have been severely impacted by the pandemic. The city thus provides these businesses with the means to reinvent themselves and to resume their commercial activities.

In order to give a little break to business owners, the city has also frozen property taxes and postponed the due dates for tax payments. In addition, it has rolled out the necessary measures as part of its public fund management to significantly reduce the anticipated deficit in its operating budget.  

Agility and innovation

Although Montréal had to make changes to its services to citizens several times in keeping with directives issued by the provincial government, it has found innovative ways to maintain activities. Among many other measures, the city has maintained the services rendered by its employees by upgrading its information technology assets in order to support teleworking. What's more, civic activities were maintained by migrating public information sessions online. 

These different initiatives were added to those already in place that aimed to promote, among other things, active mobility, local businesses and accessibility to essential services (free parking, pedestrian streets, etc.) in the particular context of this past year.  

Renewal of the state of emergency

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, Montréal had first declared the state of emergency on March 27, 2020. The executive committee has since renewed the state of emergency 77 times for 5-day periods, under the delegation of powers granted by the urban agglomeration council.

During the latest urban agglomeration council meeting, held on March 25, 2021, elected officials have adopted once more the by-law amendment enabling the executive committee to renew the state of emergency for the entire urban agglomeration of Montréal for 5-day periods, this time until April 26, 2021.

Read more: Civil Protection Act 

Montréal's Web portal: montreal.ca