April 9, 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, confirmed that it will take several months before we can return to normal life and that, in order to do so, we must continue to be disciplined and respect the Public Health guidelines to limit contagion.
“This is how we’re going to prevent thousands of deaths,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Prime Minister Trudeau stressed that Canada is in the early stage of the pandemic compared with many other countries. This means that our actions will be even more important in the coming weeks and months in terms of preventing the spread of the virus. It will take months of ongoing social distancing, staying home and washing hands often to help prevent a second wave of contagion.
“The first wave could be over by early summer,” he said.
Mr. Legault mentioned that in a few days contagion will have peaked in Québec and that the current situation is in line with the projections. Based on the collated data, 99% of deaths have occurred among people aged 60 or over.
“We have to pay close attention to seniors,” Mr. Legault said.
Reopening businesses, stores and schools
The premier of Québec is looking at scenarios for a phased-in reopening of businesses. This would involve workers respecting the two-metre distancing rule, among other things.
The Québec director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, explained that businesses, stores and schools will reopen gradually.
Restaurants will not be authorized to reopen until later, and the entertainment industry will have to wait even longer due to the risks of public gatherings.
The construction industry should be one of the first sectors to gradually resume its activities.
The premier of Québec stated that there are six public residences where the situation is critical and where there have been fatalities. He pointed out that efforts have been intensified in these residences, that masks must be worn during any intervention that requires close contact and that families are called when someone is infected with COVID-19.
He reiterated that visits are prohibited in residences except for people at end of life, on compassionate grounds.
Increased wages in private residences
Premier Legault announced a 4 to 8% wage increase for nurses, auxiliaries and patient attendants working in private residences. This wage increase is retroactive to March 13 and is identical to the one instituted in the public network. The $4 hourly wage increase for patient attendants previously announced will be maintained.
Canadian Emergency Response Benefit
The prime minister of Canada stated that over 4.5 million applications have been processed and people who have lost their jobs are already receiving financial assistance.
Mr. Trudeau stressed that the government will maintain financial assistance programs for as long as it takes, even if the situation continues for several months. “We will be there to help you,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau highlighted the sacrifice of those who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, over 100 years ago, comparing their courage to the courage of our doctors and nurses “who are putting their lives on the line to help us.”
Mr. Legault paid tribute to our elders who built Québec and whom we must never forget.
“These men and women built a society that is more just, more prosperous and more beautiful. It is our duty to protect them. We owe them that.”