April 23rd, 2024

Quebec launches new helpline for politicians after hundreds quit office since 2021

By The Canadian Press on February 28, 2024.

Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Andree Laforest announces an environment program for municipalities, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Scott, Quebec. Quebec is investing $2 million to connect elected officials and their families with psychological aid resources after a wave of resignations and leaves of absence among mayors in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

MONTREAL – Quebec is committing $2 million to connect politicians and their families with psychological aid after a wave of resignations and leaves of absence among elected municipal officials.

A new telephone helpline is available starting today for politicians in need of assistance, after almost 10 per cent have quit since the 2021 municipal elections.

Quebec says the helpline is part of a multi-year plan to improve working conditions for local leaders, but today’s announcement comes just one week after the abrupt resignation of the mayor of Gatineau.

France Bélisle cited a hostile work environment, including death threats from members of the public, in her decision to step down from the post.

Minister of Municipal Affairs Andrée Laforest says a growing number of elected officials are quitting because of intimidation and harassment – at least 741 of 8,000 local politicians have quit since 2021.

The provincial government also plans to create a mandatory online course for newly elected leaders to better equip them to handle some of the stressors of their roles.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2024.

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