Indigenous Canadian man freezes to death after shelter kicks him out to protect him from COVID

Jan 19th

An indigenous man in Montreal froze to death on Saturday night outside a homeless shelter that was required to remove him due to COVID-19 health measures enacted by the Canadian government.

The man, 51-year-old Raphael Andre, was a member of an Inuit people group.

"Raphael, because he was under the influence, fell asleep in a porta-potty just a minute away from the shelter," said shelter staff member Heather Brunet, "He froze to death in the porta-potty... when he could have been here, but instead, because of these [public health] regulations, we weren't allowed to have clients here overnight."

The shelter has equipped its space for 65 people to spend the night, and has taken health measures such as installing plastic partitions to minimize the risk of viral spread.

This month, however, the government ordered them to kick everyone out of the shelter at 9:30 each night, forcing those without a bed to sleep out in the cold (for their own safety, of course!).

Instead of letting each shelter care for their local communities, the wise and efficient government has deemed that only their officially sanctioned shelters with top-of-the-line 'Rona measures can provide refuge for the needy. They've argued that there is more than enough room in the hotels and other venues they've set up to accommodate those that need a roof over their head.

The problem is, the homeless often don't reach the government-approved shelters.

Montreal's mayor offered her condolences and the city is looking into allowing the shelter to host people overnight again, but this is a perfect example of how the wheels of bureaucracy can literally kill. The government is a club – sometimes a useful club – but when you need surgical precision and contextualized solutions, its "help" is usually worse than the problem.

When in doubt on public policy, err on the side of freedom. And when you have to choose between a virus that is only deadly to a tiny fraction of the population and letting people who have no homes freeze to death, err on the side of freedom.

And especially don't make a homeless shelter choose between following the law and saving a life.


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