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.