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April 1, 2020 – New measures taken by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

In the exceptional circumstances of the current health emergency, here is an update on recent decisions by federal and provincial public authorities in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

Governments remind the public that we are having to take unprecedented measures to overcome the pandemic and that all of our collective efforts are needed to get through this as quickly as possible. The success and speed of the measures in place are a collective responsibility, a moral obligation for each and every one of us to stay home and take care of each other.

“It is by working together that we will come out of this,” Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau argues.

The priorities are always the same: no outings unless necessary, keep a distance of two metres apart during these essential outings and wash your hands for 20 seconds when returning home.

Number of cases

The number of cases continues to grow in Canada and Québec.

The Premier of Québec, François Legault, took stock of the past few weeks, adding that 6,000 beds have been released in hospitals to receive patients with COVID-19. He points out that Québec was one of the first regions in North America to close non-essential businesses. Having performed more tests than most other places, it is normal to have more infected cases in Québec. All things considered, there are fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths than elsewhere in the world, which is good news.

Protective gear

Prime Minister Trudeau points out that the government is busy meeting various needs and ensuring equipment is distributed to the provinces wherever it is most urgently needed. Efforts are continuing to order equipment internationally, and steps are being taken with Canadian manufacturing companies to have these products made in Canada.

Personal protective equipment supplies will last a week, says Legault. Orders are underway in Asia and others will be delivered in the coming weeks from Québec companies that will be producing gowns, gloves and masks.

Emergency benefits and wage subsidy

Mr. Trudeau recalls that beginning April 6, the portal will be available to obtain the emergency benefit of $2,000 per month for workers who have lost their jobs, self-employed workers and entrepreneurs without income, caregivers and students. Each aid program is unique and cannot be combined with any other. Canadians eligible for the emergency benefit cannot apply for employment insurance or receive the 75% wage subsidy offered to businesses for their employees, and vice versa. Measures have been put in place to avoid overloading the system once the portal is launched. Direct payment will be made within 3 to 5 days and cheques will be received by mail within 10 days. A monthly confirmation that your situation has not changed will be required for renewal of the emergency benefit.

Business subsidy

The new 75% wage subsidy is aimed at protecting jobs and supporting workers. This subsidy is available to businesses of any size that are not publicly funded and whose revenues dropped 30% or more due to COVID-19. Mr. Trudeau invites companies to do everything in their power to make up the 25% of the salary left to pay. Application forms will soon be available online.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau released $71 billion in funding for this program. The Government of Canada will pay businesses a wage subsidy of up to $847 per week based on a maximum annual salary of $58,700 per employee, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

Seniors’ residences

The Québec government confirms that 519 seniors’ residences have cases of COVID-19, out of a total of 2,200 residences.

Entry and exit control measures in seniors’ residences will be tightened to prevent the virus from spreading there. An additional budget of $133 million has already been allocated for this purpose. Residence staff may also be accommodated in hotels at the government’s expense to reduce the possibility of contagion.

New measures will be applied so that staff cannot be assigned to different residences at the same time. Mr. Legault reminds the public that even if it is sad, it is important not to visit seniors’ residences.

Salary increase for orderlies

The Premier of Québec says that a salary increase will be announced for orderlies, both in the public and private sectors in the coming days.

It is important to better compensate these people who do an extraordinary job, he says.

Travel restrictions in four additional areas

The Québec government has banned non-essential travel in four new areas of Québec: the Outaouais, the Laurentians, Lanaudière and Mauricie.

The Prime Minister explains that when you look at the map of Québec, this makes sense. Those who live in the northern part of the province are asked not to travel to the southern part, and those living in the south are asked not to travel to the north in order to limit the spread.

Compliance with instructions

The Premier of Québec stresses that the vast majority of Quebecers are following the instructions, but that there are still non-essential gatherings taking place and businesses that are still open. He reminded the public of the importance of following these instructions, adding that it was a question of life or death.

The same goes for gatherings, especially in parks. The police will be asked to give out fines to violators if this negligent behavior continues.

Essential services

Mr. Trudeau thanks all those working in essential services to ensure that services continue to be available for all of us.

His acknowedgments for the day go to those supporting their spouses providing essential services, stating that they play an important role in giving them strength and courage.