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April 16, 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 public authorities in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The premier of Québec, François Legault, announced a change in the compilation of deaths related to COVID-19 that adds a number of deaths over the last week and has increased the daily count. Some 630 people have died in Québec since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. While the death count is significant, contagion is under control thanks to Quebecers’ rigorous application of isolation measures.

 Additional personnel for CHSLDs

The prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, highlighted the extraordinary work of nursing assistants who are working in increasingly difficult conditions and earning less than $2,500.

“These employees not only deserve our recognition, but our support,” he said. A pay increase is in the works for them.

The premier of Québec announced that 2,000 physicians have responded to the call to help out in CHSLDs. It is “a major challenge getting all of these people to work together. We have to define everyone’s tasks. It won’t be perfect. We’ll make adjustments along the way. I’m convinced that we can handle this national emergency.”

The physicians will be quickly integrated into the network.

Mr. Legault added that college and university nursing graduates will be contacted starting today to help out in CHSLDs in the coming days. The minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, stated that this includes all health graduates (nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, social workers, medical technologists). The same participation is being planned for teachers and support staff.

A call for help has also been issued to education students who could lend a helping hand as patient attendants.

“All of these people helping out will be a great benefit. Accelerated health care training will be provided to all of them,” said Ms McCann.

 Canadian Armed Forces in the CHSLDs

Prime Minister Trudeau stated that his government has received a request from the Québec government for Canadian Armed Forces personnel to provide medical assistance in the CHSLDs.

“We’re exploring how the federal government can help them. This is not usually what the Armed Forces are called on to do. Usually they help out during floods. We’re working as fast as possible to send the necessary and appropriate help,” he stated. Members of the Red Cross and specialized volunteers have also been contacted.

Premier Legault stated that Québec needs members of the Armed Forces who are qualified in the field of health. There are some 60 to 100 members who have the necessary qualifications.

 Offering a helping hand

The minister of Health and Social Services emphasized that beyond the qualifications and degrees of the people who have applied online, successful job matching depends on scheduling and location.

“Of the 40,000 offers received, we have identified 3,000 people who have the skills and availability we need. I’m calling on people to apply online if they’ve not already been contacted,” she said.

She reiterated that some 7,000 people in the health network are absent and need to be replaced.

 Vaccine and screening

Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated that his government is continuing to work towards developing a vaccine and improving screening, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is a global pandemic and efforts must be coordinated globally if we are to find an effective solution.”

Semi-urgent surgery

Minister Danielle McCann announced that treatments are ongoing and that alternative treatments have been administered, when possible, to protect the health of those awaiting surgery.

She also announced today’s reopening of all medical imaging services.

“We’re making changes as the situation evolves. We will do the maximum,” she said.

Protective equipment

Mr. Trudeau stated that his government has finalized contracts with several Canadian companies to supply personal protective equipment for essential service workers.

 Support for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the eligibility criteria for loans for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been loosened so that businesses, with payrolls between $20,000 and $1.5 million in 2019, can apply.


Banks have already approved 195,000 loans of $40,000, guaranteed by the government, to meet the cash flow needs of SMEs. This represents a guaranteed credit of $7.5 billion for these businesses.

He added that Canadian emergency assistance for commercial rents is being discussed with the provinces and territories to help businesses and commercial building owners with rent for April, May and June.


Scenarios for reopening the economy

Mr. Legault highlighted that his government is preparing a plan to reopen the economy, starting with businesses.

“We want to do this gradually and intelligently, following all of the public health regulations.” The premier added, “There is no question of reopening schools in the short term.”

Mr. Trudeau warned again that there is no returning to normal life until there is a vaccine. Even when the time comes to loosen the regulations, it will have to be done with extreme caution. “We’re far from there. We must be prudent if we want to avoid another quarantine.”

 Today’s acknowledgements

Premier Legault thanked everyone who is working out of the spotlight, the people taking emergency calls, first responders, fire fighters, police officers, ambulance technicians and paramedics, who are on the frontlines 24/7.

“We’re fortunate to be able to rely on you during this exceptional time.”