Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Québec government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fourth wave well under way in Quebec

Québec Premier François Legault pointed out that, despite vaccinations, a fourth wave is well and truly under way in Québec.

“The Delta variant is highly contagious and there is a real risk, both in terms of hospitalizations and deaths,” Mr. Legault said. He added: “Vaccines reduce the risk of having COVID, and if you have COVID, the vaccine cuts the risk of suffering serious consequences and hospitalization.”

He said the experts are unanimous that there will be an increase in cases and hospitalizations in the coming weeks.

However, he noted that the increase in cases in Québec is less pronounced than those in the United States and Europe.

Mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers

The Premier announced that vaccination will be mandatory for healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors.

This measure applies to all workers who are in contact with patients for more than 15 minutes, including, among others, cleaning staff, nurses, doctors, employment agency staff, as well as those serving in intermediate resources, in private residences for the elderly and paramedics.

“This is not an easy decision. It involves physical integrity… and labour law,” Mr. Legault said.

A parliamentary committee will enable elected representatives and experts to examine this proposal, but also a broader scenario involving the compulsory vaccination of all public employees who are in contact with citizens, including teachers.

“We would like this committee to be held next week,” the Premier said.

For his part, Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services, stated that all these employees must have received their first dose by September 1, and a second by October 1, without which they will not be able to work.

It should be noted that 90% of healthcare workers have received a first dose of the vaccine.

Mandatory masking in CEGEPs and universities

Premier Legault said that, contrary to what had already been announced, masks will be mandatory at all times in all CEGEPs and universities for the start of the school year.

The situation could also change in primary and secondary schools, from region to region and depending on the epidemiological situation. The government is waiting for recommendations from Public Health before making a decision.

“We have to be careful—more careful than ever—and we must also consider the fact that there will be a return school in two weeks, and it is clear that there will be more contact,” he said. “Even if young people are less at risk, they are not completely risk-free, and they can transmit the virus. We can expect that with the return to school, the number of contacts will increase.”