A call to action

A call to action
Brome-Missisquoi community organization representatives gathered to sound the alarm on the area’s current social crisis (Photo : William Crooks)

Public meeting on social crisis in Brome-Missisquoi

By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative


On a cloudy June 17 morning in Cowansville, community leaders, journalists, and concerned citizens gathered at the CDC Brome-Missisquoi office for a crucial public meeting. The aim was to shed light on the escalating social crisis affecting the region, characterized by rising homelessness, mental health issues, and economic insecurity. The meeting, organized on short notice, underscored the urgency of addressing these critical issues.


Opening remarks by Nicolas Gauthier

Nicolas Gauthier, Director of the CDC Brome-Missisquoi, opened the meeting with a warm welcome.

“We are here today to address the escalating social crisis affecting our communities. The rise in homelessness, mental health issues, and economic insecurity are alarming. We need to bring these issues to the forefront and work together for solutions,” Gauthier stated.

He emphasized the importance of collective action and introduced the meeting’s agenda, which included a half-hour of presentations followed by a Q&A session.


Julie Coderre on housing issues

Julie Coderre, representing ACEF Montérégie-Est, took the floor to discuss the housing crisis in Brome-Missisquoi. She painted a grim picture of the current situation, mentioning several cases of eviction and poor living conditions.

“We’ve seen an increase in housing issues, including evictions and unsanitary conditions. Many people have no other place to go, and the stress is immense. We need to address these problems urgently,” Coderre said.

She recounted the story of a disabled man who faced eviction but managed to retain his home thanks to the intervention of community organizations. However, many others are not as fortunate. Coderre also mentioned a case where a tenant was waiting for a court hearing, fighting a bad-faith eviction by her landlord.

“We’re also seeing cases of major repairs being used as a pretext to evict tenants, leaving them with no alternative housing options. This has affected at least five tenants in our community,” she added.

Furthermore, Coderre announced the upcoming release of a new guide on tenant rights aimed at helping tenants understand their legal rights and responsibilities. “This guide will be a valuable resource for tenants who often feel powerless and unaware of their rights,” she said.


Cédric Champagne on mental health

Next, Cédric Champagne from Entrée Chez Soi de Brome-Missisquoi addressed the mental health crisis linked to housing problems. He highlighted the direct correlation between housing instability and mental health issues.

“50 per cent of the homeless population experiences mental health issues. We see a significant rise in distress and the demand for support services. The public system is overwhelmed, and we need better funding for community organizations to manage these cases effectively,” Champagne emphasized.


He shared alarming statistics showing a 400 per cent increase in demand for mental health support services in just one year. “In 2024-2025, we’ve already received 53 per cent of the total requests for assistance we saw in 2023-2024, and it’s only May. The situation is dire,” he said.

Champagne called for more substantial investment in community-based mental health services. “Our staff are as competent as those in the public system, but we lack the financial resources. There’s no reason there should be a $10 per hour wage difference between our workers and those in the public sector. We need adequate funding to provide the necessary support,” he argued.

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