A large warehouse in the cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges which is currently used to house mechanical equipment could be transformed to accommodate hundreds of human remains during the pandemic.
Our Office investigation, it was learned that the location has refrigeration units and structures of storage that can accommodate up to 700 dead.
For Patrick Chartrand, of the union of workers of the cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, this is a non-sense.
“It has been designed for a possible pandemic and it serves as a warehouse for vehicles “, he laments.
All of this equipment is currently disassembled in a section of the warehouse, but discussions have already taken place with the public health and safety, civil for a possible use.
“It has never been fitted, but the stock is there. It was requested to notify us one month in advance, since it has not been cleaned for years “, says the spokesperson of the cemetery, Daniel Granger.
In 2009, public health had also seen this place in case of high mortality related to the epidemic of H1N1. At the time, the building was almost nine.
Another place also
In addition to this warehouse, the cemetery has 500 other seats available near the crematorium.
It is far from the morgue, the largest in Montreal.
Currently, less than a hundred seats have been used to store bodies.
However, since the start of the pandemic, hospitals and funeral homes have preferred to rent containers or trailers, and refrigerated to cope with the increase in the number of deaths linked to the virus.
“It was a container for security reasons. If it came to overflow, we could use it, ” explains Lucie Marsolais, director-general of the funerary Complex Aeterna in Saint-Laurent.
According to it, the 75 places available to the funeral home, however, have been sufficient to absorb the increase in deaths since the beginning of the crisis.
In several places, as in the funerary Complex Aeterna, we opted for refrigerated containers.
This is not the only place where one is as well. Trailers refrigerated have also been arranged on the side of the funeral home Urgel Bourgie/Athos.
According to Lucie Marsolais, transporting the mortal remains for storage at the cemetery located in the city centre could go against the wishes of the deceased and cause additional costs.
♦ There are currently 1500 places in funeral homes and 225 in the hospitals of Montreal, according to the contingency plan of public health.
Arenas could also be used
In the case of high mortality related to the pandemic, the public health could make use of arenas to store— the mortal remains cool.
This solution for the least unusual had been part of the plans for the epidemic of H1N1 influenza.
It is as well as the City of Montreal would have had to pay arenas in the boroughs most affected.
For the moment, the emergency plan for the management of human remains indicates that Montreal may have to provide alternative sites in the event of a too high pressure on the morgues, funeral homes and hospitals.
“According to the needs, one or more alternative places are opened by the City of Montreal, in collaboration with private enterprises, to ensure the storage of the deceased from the community and institutions of health “, it is written in the contingency plan for the increase in deaths related to the COVID-19.
As in Spain
In some countries in Europe, the arenas were used to store the bodies during the peak of deaths from the coronavirus. Thus, in Spain, we had recourse to an olympic ice rink in the city of Madrid to serve as a morgue.
The exception was taken on the 23rd march to relieve the hospitals of the region, which groaned under the dead. At the height of the crisis, Spain had hundreds of deaths per day, far from the situation in Quebec where the maximum deaths in a single day has reached 163.
In England, the skating rink in Milton Keynes has been equipped to accommodate up to 2800 dead bodies to the required temperature.
In the United States, the state of Maryland has leased two arenas with a view to use it as a morgue temporarily.
For the moment, the only arenas used in Quebec have rather been used to treat patients with the COVID-19. It is as well as a temporary hospital has been arranged by the Red Cross at the arena Jacques-Lemaire, in the borough of LaSalle.
In the last few days, the ice of the Place Bell in Laval has also been transformed into a centre for the sick.
Elsewhere, as in Sept-Îles and Baie-Comeau, arenas served as venues for screening tests, including the steering wheel.