April 3, 2020 – New measures by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
In the exceptional circumstances of the current health state of emergency, here is an update on recent decisions by federal and provincial public authorities in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.
The prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and the premier of Québec, François Legault, stressed that the number of people falling sick or dying from coronavirus each day depends on each and every one of us. We must continue to follow the directives of health experts by staying home, limiting outings to essential needs only, keeping a distance of two metres during outings, and washing hands with soap for 20 seconds once home. Our solidarity is the only way we can reduce the duration of this global pandemic and save lives.
This Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hold a videoconference on Radio-Canada to answer children’s questions, alongside Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam. Children can send their questions to the prime minister by e-mail up until 6 p.m. tomorrow.
Mr. Trudeau announced $100 M in assistance to community organizations that provide food in their communities, such as Moisson Montréal, the Breakfast Club of Canada and the Salvation Army.
This direct financial support is intended to meet the urgent need for food among the most vulnerable in a context where donations have decreased, there is a shortage of volunteers and needs are growing.
He called on those who have the time and means to help, to donate and to contact organizations in their community.
Québec Premier François Legault added a salary bonus of $400 a month for the next four months for essential service workers in grocery stores, corner stores, pharmacies and delivery.
“I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their help during this difficult time.”
Mr. Legault stated that he thinks it is unfair that many of these people are earning less than the $2,000 per month being provided by the federal government to all those who cannot work due to COVID-19.
GST tax credit
The Canadian prime minster increased the goods and services tax (GST) credit for low-income earners by $300 per adult and $150 per child as of April instead of May, as previously announced.
$150 M for Québec SMEs
The premier of Québec, François Legault, launched a $150 M local fund program to assist SMEs in Québec. These funds will be administered by the regions and MRCs, and will be distributed to small businesses in their communities to help them during this difficult period.
Mr. Trudeau stated that the Canadian data on the pandemic will soon be available online.
Mr. Legault stressed that prudence is in order when analyzing statistics on the pandemic. Proportionately, Québec is performing many more tests than elsewhere in the world. Consequently, it is normal that more cases are being counted. He specified that, proportionately, there are far fewer deaths here than in the United States. He hopes that the protective measures being taken will enable us to attain results similar to those in Germany.
He added that the Québec director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, is working hard alongside public health scientists to provide projections for the coming weeks and months. Several scenarios will be presented next Tuesday.
“Our success or failure will depend on the number of deaths.”
The global demand for drugs due to the pandemic could lead to a shortage.
The Canadian and Québec governments have asked that the pharmaceutical industry increase production, but emphasized that inventories are sufficient for the time being.
Mr. Trudeau stated that the government has concluded an agreement with Amazon Canada to distribute protective equipment to the provinces and territories as well as a partnership with Canadian companies to produce medical equipment.
While U.S. President Donald Trump has asked the company 3M to stop exporting N95 masks, Mr. Trudeau pressed American authorities to maintain trade between the two countries, as the benefits are reciprocal. He pointed to the thousands of Canadian health professionals who cross the border each day to work in the United States, particularly in the Windsor and Detroit areas.
“For now, we are confident that we are receiving everything we need.”
The provincial government asked the prime minister of Canada to replace the current distribution of protective equipment based on the proportion of the provincial population with a distribution that takes into account the population of large cities, since the greatest numbers of people infected with COVID-19 live in large cities, like Toronto and Montréal.
Efforts are ongoing to continue to supply protective equipment. Presently, there is sufficient inventory in Québec for eight days.
Prime Minister Trudeau stated that the Armed Forces are available to assist Canadians, and will lend a helping hand, at the Québec government’s request, to northern and isolated communities. The Rangers, from the Armed Forces reserve, will be deployed as they are already present in Québec. In particular, they will set up temporary medical tents.
Questioned on this subject, both governments stated that, for the time being, they did not plan to employ geolocation using cell phones to identify people who were not respecting the isolation guidelines. The technology is available.
Premier Legault noted that one of the first lessons we can learn from the pandemic is that Québec must be more self-sufficient in the future, in terms of the production of protective and medical equipment as well as food.