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January 13, 2022 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

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

François Legault, Premier of Québec, Jean-François Roberge, Minister of Education, Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services, and Dr. Luc Boileau, interim National Director of Public Health, provided an update on the COVID-19 situation in Québec.

“I have good news at a time of great weariness for many Quebecers,” Mr. Legault said. “We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The number of infections is stabilizing. According to the experts, we reached a peak a few days ago. In the next few days, we can expect to reach the peak in number of hospitalizations.”

Back to school in person

Primary, secondary, CEGEP and university students will return to classes on January 17.

A new case-management protocol will also be implemented at all schools and daycares across the province.

Henceforth, the isolation period for COVID-19-symptomatic children under the age of 12 will be reduced to five days. A negative self-test on the fifth day of isolation will be required in order to return to class or daycare. Following an agreement with Montréal-based MedSup Medical, 70 million rapid tests will be sent to Québec by May.

In preparation for the reopening of schools, the Ministry of Education has asked the education system to be ready to replace isolating teachers on an emergency basis by calling on “parent volunteers” to supervise children in class if necessary.

Curfew lifted

The curfew in Québec will end on January 17.

Sunday store closing

January 16 will be the last Sunday that businesses will be obliged to close.

Expansion of the vaccine passport

Effective January 24, big-box stores (1,500 m2 or larger), such as Costco, Walmart and Canadian Tire, will be required to request that customers show a two-dose vaccine passport, and “eventually” a three-dose document. Pharmacies and grocery stores will be exempted from this measure.

New incentives for health workers

The Minister of Health announced additional measures, effective immediately and for a period of 12 weeks, to acknowledge the essential role of healthcare workers and to increase the resource capacity within the health and social services network and certain private partners.

These new incentives are divided into three categories:

Health, safety and wellness measures:

  • Clarifications have been made to address concerns such as N95 masks, infection prevention and control (IPC) measures and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies;
  • Intensified implementation of self-scheduling in establishments;
  • A half-day leave granted to a person for all days worked beyond their normal work week.

Administrative measures:

  • Reimbursement of work-related expenses when the employee works overtime, e.g., meals, taxi fares, etc;
  • Adjustments to bonuses will be paid as soon as possible.

Financial measures:

  • Extended application of the COVID premiums provided for in Ministerial Orders 2020-035 (also called “staircase premiums”), particularly to several job titles in hospitals, youth protection centres and CLSCs, and 2020-055;
  • Double-time pay for a part-time salaried employee who works a shift (evening, night, weekend) in addition to their regular work day, subject to certain conditions;
  • Double-time pay for a full-time salaried employee who works a sixth or seventh day in the same work week;
  • A lump sum of $100 for a part-time salaried employee who works a minimum of 30 hours in a work week;
  • The measures are in addition to those already in place, such as the 4-8% bonuses, the attraction/retention program (Order 2021-071) and the unfavourable-schedule bonuses.

These measures represent an investment of $500 million by the provincial government. Other measures will be added in the coming days.

It should be noted that there are 15,000 employees missing from the health network, as opposed to 20,000 a few days ago.