Quebec to invest $250 million to hire more Montreal police, reduce gun violence

·2 min read

MONTREAL — The Quebec government will spend $250 million over the next five years to help Montreal hire more police officers and combat gun violence, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said Saturday.

Guilbault told a news conference the $45 million per year will allow the city to hire up to 225 more officers.

The City of Montreal had already budgeted on its own for a similar amount, bringing the total maximum number of new officers to 450. On Saturday the city also announced it would commit $25 million of its own over five years to bolster mobile crisis response teams that work with vulnerable residents.

In the wake of several high profile shootings, "Montrealers have a need to feel an increased police presence in our streets, in our parks, a little bit everywhere on the territory of the metropolis," Guilbault said, adding that an additional 72 spots have been opened at the province's police academy to increase the number of new recruits.

In addition to hiring police officers, Guilbault says the city and province will also split the cost of hiring another 100 social workers who can help with mental health calls, thereby easing the burden on police.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said 30 per cent of 911 calls in the city are related to mental health.

Montreal has been dealing with a spate of high-profile shootings, including the daytime killings of two men within less than one hour earlier this week.

Despite the city having one of Canada's lowest homicide rates, political parties have started making gun violence a topic in Quebec's election campaign — which starts officially Sunday — and the police union is using the high-profile crimes to push the city to hire more officers.

The Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal sent a letter to Plante earlier this week claiming that since the mayor promised last November to hire 250 additional officers, the number of police in the city has dropped by 72.

Plante, for her part, has said any accusations that she doesn't support the city's police force are false.

While she promised Saturday to spare no effort to combat gun violence, she said the city has limited power to stop gun trafficking.

She called on the federal government to take more action to control the flow of guns across the Canada-U.S. border, as well as to act against so-called "ghost" guns made with 3D printers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2022

Clara Descurninges, The Canadian Press