A contribution from Verdun , Ensemble Contre la gentrification

In the ongoing battle against the coronavirus, our elected officials continue to double down on a public health response that relies almost entirely on staying home. The state relies on housing for our health and safety, but does little to ensure a right to housing. This means that those without access to safe and affordable housing have been effectively left out of Canada's public health response. In Verdun, more than one in three tenants pays more than 30% of their income towards rent. Many of us have little option but to live in over-crowded and poor-quality housing, which impacts all aspects of our lives and relationships. By leaving our health and housing in the hands of a violent speculative rental market, the bourgeois leadership has made it clear that they have little concern for our safety. Without a rent freeze, a ban on renovictions, and true accountability for delinquent landlords, their logic of staying home will remain a policy of paper-thin security.  

Québec’s curfew policy makes these problems even more troubling. Not only has the state neglected those without access to safe and reliable housing, it has now turned towards punishing those of us found outside of confinement. This class warfare is amplified by the use of fines, which are felt disproportionately across the socio-economic spectrum. For the rich, the threat of a fine is a slap on the wrist, but for the poor and working-class such fines only put us at greater risk of losing our homes! Verdun has been home to a working-class community for a century. Today, we form the essential work force of grocers, healthcare workers, and social workers who have held the front lines of this pandemic. Dollars spent towards policing the crisis are dollars taken from our systems of care, which are already running on fumes!

Verdun Ensemble Contre La Gentrification recognizes that we all play a role in minimizing contact and keeping each other safe, but we also recognize the curfew for what it truly is. Policing the crisis is a policy of class warfare that causes harm to those who have already been most neglected by the state throughout the pandemic. Further, it is a colonial policy that restricts the movement of Indigenous peoples on the traditional and unceded territory of the Kanien’kehà:ka. We march in solidarity with those who have been both neglected and punished by the state, to honour the agency of those who choose to find shelter wherever they feel most safe, and to call on the Province of Québec to invest in social housing and systems of care - not policing - as part of its public health response.