April 10, 2020 – Government updates on the COVID-19 pandemic
In the exceptional circumstances of the current health state of emergency, here is an update on recent decisions and actions by federal and provincial governments in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and the premier of Québec, François Legault, reiterated the importance of staying home and spending time together remotely to celebrate Easter.
Premier Legault stated that it is important to note the degree to which Québec has been strict in the pause it has put on social and economic life. The numbers on contagion and mortality are greater in Québec than in the rest of Canada because of the March break and the fact that Québec had more sustained contact with New York and France than did the rest of the country. Half of the pandemic-related deaths in Canada have occurred in Québec.
Major summer events
The Québec government has asked for the cancellation of festivals as well as sports and cultural events until August 31, 2020.
Return to normal
Prime Minister Trudeau noted that the measures applied in Canada have limited the spread and severity of the pandemic. The guidelines could be relaxed once the first wave has passed, “perhaps this summer, but that will depend on us. Even this fall, we’ll have to maintain certain distancing measures in order to prevent a possible second and more serious wave of contagion,” he said.
A return to normal life is foreseeable in one-and-a-half years, once a vaccine has been found against COVID-19.
Reopening businesses, schools and daycares
Premier François Legault stressed that if everything goes well in the next few days, we can start cautiously reopening stores and businesses, while maintaining our new lifestyle.
“Economic activity will resume gradually in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus,” he said.
The government expects a partial reopening of schools and daycares before May 4, because children are not at risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19.
The unemployment rate in Québec has surpassed the 8% announced yesterday by the federal government. “That was the finding for the third week in March. Unemployment is higher now,” stated Mr. Legault. He added that “we will be able to reopen our economy and we will do it intelligently.”
Hospitals under control
Mr. Legault emphasized that the crisis management strategy has brought positive results compared with the United States and certain European countries since, proportionately, there have been fewer deaths and hospitalizations.
“Thanks to this, our hospitals are under control,” he stated. “We’re approaching the peak and it’s lower than elsewhere. This is good news. We have every reason to believe that after the peak, the curve will decline,” he said.
Across the country, 27,000 qualified volunteers have answered Health Canada’s call to give assistance to healthcare providers in hospitals and residences.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government is currently looking at different proposals to ensure that seniors in residences are protected during this difficult period.
The Québec minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, stated that the CHSLDs affected by COVID-19 are being monitored very closely. She stressed that there will be no more transfers of new residents into CHSLDs.
“This is a troubling situation and we are deploying additional personnel to help out,” she said.
State of emergency in Canada
Mr. Trudeau stated that there is no reason to impose a state of emergency at this point and that there are no supply problems with protective and healthcare equipment.
He is proud that Canada’s civil service was so rapid and efficient in mobilizing the greatest aid package for Canadians in the country’s history. Parliament will sit tomorrow to release funds to assist businesses.
Mr. Trudeau stated that the screening capacity across the country is good and will continue to improve.
Mr. Legault specified that 6,000 tests are performed daily. On average, 13,000 tests have been performed per million inhabitants, which, along with Germany, puts us among the top countries in the world on this front. Proportionately, this represents double what is being done in the United States and Ontario.
“We are now prioritizing CHSLD personnel and residents with COVID-19 cases,” he said.
The national director of Public Health noted that death rates are higher in CHSLDs because most residents are already sick and at greater risk.
A ministerial order is being prepared that will require educational staff to lend a helping hand in the health sector. Minister McCann explained that COVID-19 has required additional screening clinics and 811 services, increased treatment time among those infected, and has forced the isolation of infected healthcare providers, which explains the need for additional personnel.
Premier François Legault shared a message of hope with all Quebecers: “Slowly but surely, Québec will be reborn, like nature in springtime. We will overcome this challenge, more united, and stronger. Good days are ahead.”