Coronavirus: Officials failed to protect Montreal’s vulnerable neighbourhoods, activists say

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Some of Montreal’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods appear to be bearing the brunt of the city’s COVID-19 numbers, leading community organizers to question why more wasn’t done to protect them.

Montreal North, one of the city’s poorest boroughs, had over 1,850 cases as of Tuesday evening, and the highest rate of infection in the city — more than double the city’s average.

Marjorie Villefranche, the director of the Maison d’Haiti community organization, said Montreal North and other lower-income neighbourhoods have been hit hard due to crowded living conditions, a population that suffers from pre-existing health conditions and a high proportion of the population working in health care and other essential services.

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“Imagine six weeks in a three-and-a-half with five or six people,” she said, using the Quebec term for a one-bedroom apartment. “It’s difficult.”

READ MORE: Quebec still falls short of testing targets amid novel coronavirus crisis

Data released by the city of Montreal shows that many of the hardest-hit boroughs are in the city’s northeast, including Montreal North, Riviere-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles and Anjou, which house many lower-income people, immigrants and refugees.

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In all of those neighbourhoods,

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