'Info ambassadors' comb Montreal neighbourhood to address COVID-19 misinformation
TORONTO -- In the Montreal neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, a group of ‘info ambassadors’ have begun handing out fliers to address the misinformation of COVID-19 and help people dealing with the social issues of the area.
Public health authorities are sending out six staff to grocery stores, parks and door-to-door to advise people on the importance of physical distancing, wearing a mask and to counter some of the misinformation that has been circulating.
“Between five-to-seven days a week, they're like ninjas,” Melda Saeedi, director of Le Chez Nous de Mercier-Est, a community centre for seniors, told CTV News. “We're happy to have them.”
Saeedi’s organization and L’anonyme, an outreach group designed to prevent the transmission of sexually-transmitted infections, are providing staff for the project.
The Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as there are several senior’s facilities that also provide a major source of employment for the area.
According to CTV News Montreal’s COVID-19 tracker, the area has already had 2,395 confirmed cases of the virus and 375 deaths.
In the neighbourhood, 28 per cent of households live below the poverty line. Information ambassadors also help residents with issues specific to low-income residents.
“(We try to) address the different social issues they might be facing as well during these difficult times, such as isolation,” Saeedi said. “There's a lot of mental health issues that have been emerging as well that were already present, but have just been accentuated with the pandemic.”
The project is funded through Quebec's transportation department and the health authority for the East end of Montreal.
With files from CTV News Montreal’s Christine Long and Selena Ross