Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is criticizing the Quebec premier's refusal to exempt homeless people from the provincewide curfew.

Miller reacted today to the recent death of Raphael "Napa" Andre, a 51-year-old Innu man found dead in a portable toilet not far from a Montreal homeless shelter he frequented.

In response to Andre's death, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante called on Premier Francois Legault to exempt the homeless from the curfew, but Legault refused, saying some people might pretend to be homeless to stay out past 8 p.m.

Miller says he would have liked to have seen more flexibility from the premier, adding that the homeless need to be treated with dignity.

The minister says Legault should show more humanity following reports that Andre had sought refuge in the portable toilet because he had no shelter during the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

Miller, however, says he sees a sign of hope in the news that Quebec health authorities have reserved 925 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for homeless people.

“A law that imposes a curfew and forces someone to make a decision to take refuge in a chemical toilet, obviously, that goes to the heart of the debate," Miller told reporters. "We must show more humanity, in my opinion."

He added that he is "completely behind Mayor Plante on this."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.