Publisac deliverers | “What’s going to happen to us? †

The ground shook under the feet of street vendors in mid-April when the city of Montreal announced that from May 2023, the Publisac would be distributed only to those who asked. The press a morning spent with delivery drivers living in uncertainty about keeping their jobs.

Posted at 8pm

Emilie Bilodeau

Emilie Bilodeau
The press

“It hurt me when Plante announced that,” Steve Arsenault says, beating his heart. With the other hand, he firmly holds about thirty bags of advertising brochures. “It’s been my job for 15 years, I’ve worked with other street vendors and we all need that to live. What will happen to us? I don’t know. †

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced on April 11 that residents who wish to receive the Publisac must obtain a sticker from the city. In Mirabel, the first municipality to adopt such an ordinance, Transcontinental announced at the end of April that it would stop distributing promotional bags altogether due to lack of profitability. Montreal states that the Publisac represents 10% of the materials processed at the Lachine recycling plant.

“She’s not complaining about Amazon pollution, though,” Steve Arsenault says, as the sound of his voice mixes with the sound of his metal cart. “If you walk around and look at the bins on recycling day, it’s not true that Publisacs represent 10% of the content. Amazon’s boxes take up much more space. †


Steve Arsenal

Steve Arsenault started supplying the Publisac 15 years ago and became a distributor over the years. He hired about fifteen street vendors to primarily serve the Rosemont, Villeray, Westmount, and Montreal North areas.

The vending machine has seen many students and retirees, as well as homeless people, ex-convicts, the illiterate and immigrants.

There are many street vendors who could not work at Tim Hortons. They are not made for that. There are those that consume, so they won’t do customer service.

Steve Arsenault, Publisac . delivery man

“If the person is drunk, but they are nice and alone, then I give them a chance. Our society is sicker than we think,” said Steve Arsenault, himself an ex-alcoholic.

Work outside

A little further on in Côte-des-Neiges, Yves Perron walks up and down the stairs at a brisk pace. “I’m a country boy! I like working outside,” says the man who started delivering the Publisac at the age of 20. He now has 55. “But sometimes I stopped with big goals. »


Yves Perron

The man takes a break and talks about his drinking problem. “I grew up in a family of alcoholics. My father is an alcoholic. My sisters are alcoholics. My uncles are alcoholics. I grew up there and liked them,” he explains.

The peddler also managed to get out of homelessness last January. He found a one-room apartment on the Plateau Mont-Royal and the first three months of his rent were paid through a social reintegration program. 1er May, he will have to pay his first rent himself.

Yves Perron was not surprised by the announcement of Valérie Plante who wants to limit the spread of Publisac. “She’s been talking about it for a long time,” he says. If I lose my job, I will look for another job. Preferably outside. †

But he fears for other comrades like J.-F. who also left the street three months ago. “He’s about to fall,” he worries.

Close at the end of the month

Chantale Santerre also does not accept the announcement of the voluntary registration system at Publisac. “When I heard that, I said to myself, ‘I need to find another job.’ †


Chantale Santerre

The 53-year-old woman already works as a bartender and customer service representative at an A&W. She started delivering the Publisac in October to help her make ends meet. For 1000 Publisac spent, she earns $200. She shares the amount with her friend who shakes his hand.

“If you’re quick, it could take two or three hours,” she says. But in some neighborhoods, it can also take up to seven hours, she adds.

Chantale Santerre loves the freedom her job as a street vendor gives her. She starts when she wants, takes the breaks she wants. When she thinks of the idea that she could lose her job, her language colors. ‘Wait for the next election, you! I’m not a girl who normally goes to vote, but this time I will,” she said emphatically.

But by the next election, it may be too late.

More information user manual

  • 700,000
    The number of Publisac distributed each week in Montreal

    SOURCE: Transcontinental

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