Mentally ill homeless people need doctors, not police officers: police union head

Police union head Yves Francoeur.
Bernard Brault/LA PRESSE

The head of Montreal's police union says social workers and psychiatrists, not police officers, should be dealing with homeless people suffering from mental illnesses.

In an op-ed piece published Thursday in La Presse, Yves Francoeur noted that in the past decade, the city's regional health board has cut by half the budget devoted to dealing with mental illness among the homeless, and the number of hospitals in town that treat street people with problems has gone from eight to four.

"Because of these cuts to services and the lack of resources, the Quebec government helping turn this from a health issue to a public security issue," Francoeur wrote. "In fact, with even fewer resources there will more problems in the streets, and of course, the police will take to take care of them.

"The streets are not a hospital."

Francoeur suggests the work of police officers is already complex and difficult — and becoming more so all the time. And all too often, it's the police who end up taking the full blame whenever there's a shooting or a tasering incident involving a homeless person.

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  1. Robin Edgar posted on 04/24/2014 04:20 PM
    Mentally ill people should not be homeless *period*. It is to the shame of Québec society that they have been shoved into the street instead of properly and compassionately cared for in mental hospitals or in adequately supervised half-way houses. Yves Francoeur is right in blaming Québec government policies that force mentally ill people into homelessness instead of providing them with appropriat housing, but this does NOT exonerate SPVM officers for their questionable shootings of mentally ill homeless people in crisis.
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