April 21, 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 prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, stressed that the discipline of Canadians in following the guidelines over the last six weeks is bearing fruit and by continuing to follow the advice of Public Health experts, we will get through the pandemic. He was explicit that the data is encouraging.
The premier of Québec, François Legault, stated that if the situation continues to progress as it has been lately, the scenarios for relaunching activities could be announced shortly, while reiterating that it will be a gradual process dictated, above all, by protecting our health.
CHSLDs and seniors’ residences
The premier of Québec announced that among the 1,041 people who have died from COVID-19, 850 were living in seniors’ residences. There have been no cases in 2,300 of Québec’s 2,600 residences. “The situation is difficult in 80 residences,” Mr. Legault said.
With regard to the 2,000 positions to be filled in these centres, 1,000 general practitioners, specialists, nurses, patient attendants and students answered the premier’s call yesterday.
“They deserve an enormous thank you. This is a collective effort. If all goes well, by tomorrow evening, the situation will be under control in terms of personnel. We will be able to fill the other 1,000 positions today,” he said.
Mr. Legault reiterated that this is where a national emergency is still occurring.
Situation in Québec hospitals
Over the last month, 6,000 beds have been freed up to make them available for potential COVID-19 patients, while 12,000 hospital beds are still available for urgent and semi-urgent interventions unrelated to the pandemic.
“There was never any question of postponing interventions that would put a person’s life in danger,” he said.
The minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, pointed out that the medical specialists who will be working in CHSLDs are currently inactive in the hospitals, since there are no non-urgent surgeries being performed in hospitals right now.
“There is no impact on the 11,000 people in our hospitals who are being treated for conditions unrelated to COVID-19 and our doctors are there, the teams are there so that these activities can carry on in the hospital setting” she said.
Mr. Legault stated that his government is still looking for solutions to the global shortage of sedatives, because the replacement drugs are much less effective.
Emergency fund in support of communities
Prime Minister Trudeau announced a $350-million emergency fund to support non-profit community organizations in training volunteers, increasing home deliveries for seniors and providing transportation for people with a disability.
These funds will be distributed among small independent organizations and national organizations like Centraide, Community Foundations Canada and the Red Cross.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The prime minister of Canada confirmed that the application form for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for employers will be available online as of Monday (April 27). An online calculator has been added on the Canada Revenue Agency website so that entrepreneurs can evaluate how much they could receive through the Emergency Wage Subsidy.
This subsidy could be as high as $847 a week per employee.
“We hope to be able to roll out the money as quickly as possible, but it will take a few days at minimum,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Reopening of the economy, schools and daycares
The premier of Québec said that if the spread of the virus remains stable, as is the case right now, activities will gradually resume in the weeks and months to come, through the reopening of the economy, schools and daycares.
“In terms of health, it’s not a good idea to wait until September 1 to send one million children back to school at the same time. We’re looking at a gradual reopening. I want everyone to be safe,” he said.
Questioned about a return to classes over the summer, Mr. Legault said that he “does not think there will be school this summer.”
Québec’s union of agricultural producers
Premier Legault said he is happy about the number of people who have contacted the Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec (UPA) to show their interest in working on farms this summer.
“We want a Québec with greater food autonomy. I want to thank our agricultural producers. They’re the ones ensuring we have fresh produce in our grocery stores,” he said.
Prime Minister Trudeau stressed that Canadian producers have been prioritizing Canadian markets and have reduced their exports, stating that he is not anticipating any shortages, but there may be some price increases.
“We have to do everything to keep the workers in these food industries safe,” he said.
Questioned about Canadians who have no medical insurance since losing their jobs, Mr. Trudeau stated that his government “is continuing to work with experts and to do everything it can to help Canadians get through this crisis.”