2021 Year in Review: February

Continued restrictions

“The most effective measure we have right now is the curfew,” said Legault, attributing the drop in hospitalizations to the measure. Photo: François Legault via Facebook.

As January turned into February, many realized that the strict health measures imposed at the start of the year were here to stay. As the epidemiological situation improved, the provincial government allowed for a certain relaxation of health measures.

On Feb. 8, non-essential businesses including large malls and stores were reopened, whereas the 8 PM to 5 AM curfew remained in place. “The most effective measure we have right now is the curfew,” said Legault, attributing the drop in hospitalizations to the measure. 

“In fact, hospitalizations decreased by 14% in the last 7 days,” said Public Health Minister Christian Dubé at the time. In a report, the INSPQ claimed that the curfew had decreased the number of house visits by half. To this date, the government is still under severe public scrutiny over this measure as it still has not published specific data to justify the measure.

Study on Park Extension needs

With COVID-19 bringing to light many social issues, local Park Extension organization the Sarker Hope Foundation conducted a study amongst residents in hopes of better understanding the community’s needs amid the pandemic. 

Published in late February, the Supporting Parc-Extension Residents Project study found that there was a fundamental need for community organizations to better coordinate their efforts. It offered insight as to where community support was needed the most in Park Extension. 

“We want to distribute responsibilities,” said project director, Asad Rahman, adding “we are looking for a harmonized system of support and coordination to create easy access for the residents.” 

Furthermore, the study stated that approximately 31% of Parc-Extension residents lost employment over the course of the pandemic and 57% experienced some form of mental health problem. The study mapped needs geographically in the neighbourhood. “Without mapping your geography, you cannot provide support,” added Rahman.

It stressed the importance of education for both citizens, organizations and all levels of government if social issues are to be addressed properly. “We want more flexibility in support,” said Rahman, adding that many decision-makers “are not listening to the resident’s voice.”

The Sarker Hope Foundation aided citizens over the course of the pandemic by providing food, medicine and transport to residents in need. Photo: Sarker Hope Foundation  

Hotel quarantine

February was also marked by the introduction of hotel quarantines for all travellers arriving in Canadian airports. The federal government announced that starting Feb. 22 all air travellers would be obligated to spend at least 72 hours in accredited quarantine hotels when arriving in Canada.

These hotel stays were at the personal expense of travellers and could reach upwards of $2,000 for a three-night stay. “The price will include costs associated with the room, food, cleaning, infection prevention and control measures, and security as well as transportation,” said Health Minister Patty Hajdu. 

The new measure attracted a great deal of controversy amongst both Canadian and international travellers, stating that prices were exorbitant and the quality of service offered was subpar. 

In a Nouvelles Parc-Extension News exclusive, Sophie Carolin Schroll, an international student studying in Montreal complained of paying $1,113 for a two-night stay at the Crowne Plaza Montreal Airport.

Schroll stated the rooms were not worth the price and the food served at the hotel was “horrible”. “The food situation was pretty, pretty bad,” said Schroll, adding that it “was worse than in an airplane.” This policy was finally eliminated by the Trudeau government on Aug. 9, 2021. 

Many travellers complained of the bad quality of food in mandatory COVID-19 quarantine hotels. Photo: Sophie Carolin Schroll

Black History Month

As the month came to a close, the borough held celebrations as part of Black History Month to underline the outstanding work of 9 notable Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension residents in service to their community. 

The laureates for Parc-Extension were Kingsley Kwateng, Henri-Robert Durandisse, Elsie Daphnis and Rachelle Demosthene, all honoured for the work they have done in their borough and who have been deeply involved in their communities.

Chief Nana Kwateng Amanin was the first to receive the award. Of Ghanaian origin, Kwateng is a successful businessman in Montreal and runs the Mama Africa beauty supply on Jean-Talon, along with his wife Mercy. He is considered by many as the“King of the Montreal Ghana Community,” mentioned City Councillor Mary Deros.

“If you are here with us tonight it’s because your challenges and your successes are a fine example that merit to be highlighted today,” said Deros, who co-hosted the event with City Councillor for Saint-Michel Josué Corvil. 

Professional boxer Yves Ulysse Junior receives his award from city councillors Josué Corvil and Mary Deros. Photo: Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension via Zoom