01/06/2015 09:20 EST | Updated 03/08/2015 05:59 EDT

Homeless people hired to shovel snow by Laval politician

One Laval politician has come up with an original solution to help clear the sidewalks.

Laval-Des-Rapides councillor Pierre Anthian has hired some homeless, and formerly homeless, men to clear snow the city's blue-collar workers haven't gotten to.

"I'm showing that if they are given the opportunity, they are able to work and be of service to society," said Anthia, who also works as an outreach worker. "Tonight they will allow thousands of workers to return safely without breaking a hip or a rib."

Anthian hired the men out of his own budget at $12 an hour.

He said the work helps to give the men — who call themselves "brown-collar workers" — some confidence.

"It encourages me to go ahead, and that gives me confidence in myself. In life, when we want it enough, we can achieve anything. You just have to have confidence in yourself and go for it," said Patrick, who was formerly homeless.

The city's civil servants have expressed concern about the workers doing the job without insurance.

"Mr. Anthian's initiative is based on good intentions. But when you think about it, it's not such a good idea because clearing snow in a city like Laval is serious work that must be performed by employees who are well equipped," said Nadine Lussier, head of communications for the City of Laval.  

Anthian said he does not intend to stop and plans to spend nearly $1,000 on the effort this winter.