Federal government holding up new drug-addiction centre: NDP MP

CTV Montreal, Mar. 11 2012

See the report : http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20120311/mtl_sexwork_120311/20120311/?hub=MontrealHome

MONTREAL — Drug-addicted sex workers could soon become a rare sight in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve as politicians from three levels of government laid out a plan on Sunday to help prostitutes in the impoverished borough.

To ensure the safety and welfare of 75 drug-addicted sex workers, they plan to convert the Cap St-Barnabe building into counselling space for local group Dopamine and a needle exchange.

"They would be able to come here and rest, but also be able to talk to somebody and when they're ready to get out of the situation then they could get some help," said Hochelaga NDP MP Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet.

According to the New Democrat, the only obstacle to the project is the federal government, who is resisting a call to provide funding.

"Right now in Ottawa, Human Resources and Skills Development, is asking questions and so we're worried that they're trying to find a reason not accept this project," said Boutin-Sweet.

The current situation on Ste. Catherine Street East is a revolving door, as police faced with few options can arrest sex workers and bring them to a hospital or jail.

"The people living around are very concerned because there's some violence, there's solicitation," said Real Menard, the borough mayor from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

With 14 counsellors, Dopamine has served drug-addicts in the borough for 15 years. The organization says it needs the extra space at the new building to provide private services to those in need and to build a new respite centre for sex workers.

The borough mayor and local MNA are joining the call for the federal government to provide the missing funds so that the project can help those in need.