This week, amid an outcry over the policing of homeless Montrealers sparked by a man’s death, one of the city’s biggest day shelters laid off 11 of its front-line staff—then promptly hired some security guards.

The guards aren’t meant to replace front-line workers, says the director of the Accueil Bonneau shelter.

But the move, according to many in the sector, is part of a longer-term trend that has accelerated during the pandemic and won’t be going away afterwards, and it has many social workers worried.

“This clientele often already has a bad relationship with people in positions of authority,” such as police and security guards, said one recent worker at Accueil Bonneau.