April 8, 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 COVID-19 pandemic.
The prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and the premier of Québec, François Legault, reiterated the guidelines to stay home, to go out only for essential needs and to maintain a distance of two metres from others.
“We have to get used to this two-metre distance, because this guideline will be with us for months,” explained Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Legault.
Premier Legault stressed that the number of hospitalizations is starting to stabilize, that the great majority of people infected with the virus do not require hospitalization and that we must continue to protect seniors.
Return to normal life
A return to normal life will not be immediate, but gradual. “Even if it’s not part of our culture, we will have to learn to observe the two-metre distance between us for several months,” Mr. Legault said.
“We’re in the process of winning this battle, and that’s encouraging. I’m proud of the efforts of Quebecers. We need to give another little push to get out of the crisis and see the possibility of a return to normal life as soon as possible.”
A return to normal life will be that much more complex if we are to avoid another round of contagion and a return to isolation. Both governments are examining ways to return to normal life while taking into account social distancing for children, on public transit and among colleagues and clients.
Mr. Legault mentioned that entrepreneurs must think about new and more flexible ways to allow one parent to be at home with children and avoid having too many workers on public transit during peak hours.
Mr. Legault revisited the scenarios that were presented and announced two pieces of good news.
If the worst-case scenario occurs, there are enough beds and respirators. In terms of the number of deaths, the scenario is nearing that of the best countries, which is positive.
Prime Minister Trudeau said that he should be able to present the pandemic data for the entire country in the next few days.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the criteria for the Emergency Wage Subsidy will be relaxed in order to include as many businesses as possible, including non-profit organizations, new businesses and start-ups.
To be eligible, the drop in income due to COVID-19 compared with the same month last year or the months of January and February of this year, must now be 15%, rather than 30%.
Canadian Emergency Response Benefit
Mr. Trudeau stated that the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit was launched quickly to help the maximum number of people within the shortest possible timeframe respond to this urgent situation. The government is looking at ways to help people who are in other situations, such as students and part-time workers.
Additional measures are also being planned for the most vulnerable seniors, freelancers and people who work less than 10 hours a week.
“We will continue to fine-tune our approach. We’re working on it and will have new measures to announce. No one will be forgotten,” said Mr. Trudeau.
Extra support for seniors
Premier François Legault reminded us that seniors are the most at risk if they contract COVID-19. According to the statistics, 89% of deaths have occurred among people 70 years of age or over. The minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, pointed out that additional staff (450 doctors, 500 nurses, patient attendants and managers) will be deployed in all CHSLDs and senior residences so that dedicated teams can be present in every establishment and in every unit.
CHSLD staff and residents will be systematically tested to make sure they are not infected with or carrying the coronavirus.
Festivals and major events
Premier Legault said he would be surprised if any events with large gatherings or festivals will be held this summer, given the two-metre social distancing measures.
The premier of Québec is optimistic that the construction industry will be revived soon, particularly to meet the needs of families who were planning a move in the short term.
Mr. Legault released a video on his Facebook page for Easter, reminding people to celebrate with their loved ones by phone or video call, and not to take part in family or religious gatherings.