May 28, 2020 – Provincial government update 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 the Québec government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Difficult situation in CHSLDs
The situation continues to be difficult in seniors’ residences where death rates remain high, said Québec Premier François Legault.
Mr. Legault stated that at present there are 2,725 people infected in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs). At the peak of the contagion, there were over 5,000 people infected in Québec’s 2,600 CHSLDs.
The Québec premier continued his recruitment campaign to hire 10,000 patient attendants for public CHSLDs, insisting that beyond the better wages in a government job that offers a pension and social benefits, the working conditions and environment will be greatly improved.
He asked those interested to read the most recent novel by Québec author Marie Laberge, entitled Traverser la nuit. The story of a beautiful relationship between a patient attendant and a resident will inspire.
“If you’d like to make a difference in people’s lives, get involved!” he said.
The paid training will begin in mid-June for three months all across Québec.
Competition for private residences
Premier Legault reassured the owners of private residences who fear staff shortages due to the competition of enhanced working conditions for patient attendants in the public network.
“The wage premiums paid (in the public and private sectors) are here to stay for a long time,” he said.
Request for military assistance to be maintained
Premier François Legault plans to insist that his federal counterpart, Justin Trudeau, agree to extend the military’s deployment in the 20 CHSLDs where it is currently present in Québec, at least until September 15.
Mr. Legault stressed that Québec pays its contribution for the Canadian Army. “I understand that the army has other priorities, but I don’t see anything more urgent than looking after the people in our residences.”
Judicial activities to resume
Minister of Justice Sonia Lebel announced that the judicial system will resume activities starting June 1, which will include administrative tribunals.
While the judicial system suffered a significant slowdown due to the health emergency related to the pandemic, Me Lebel noted that it opened up “positive opportunities” with the accelerated digital shift in the justice system.
When the judicial system resumes its activities, some will take place in courthouses while others will be held in one of 136 new virtual hearing rooms created during the pandemic, and then there will be hybrid arrangements where some people will be present in court while others will participate virtually.
All courthouses have been adapted to meet the rules of physical distancing, with the addition of Plexiglas partitions and new health guidelines.
A positive return to school
The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said that the reopening of elementary schools outside Greater Montréal has gone smoothly.
“The children were happy to go back to school. Parents were relieved and it’s normal that they had some concerns.” He reiterated that the health risks for children were less serious than the negative impact of isolation on their development.
He stated that the experience gained will be very helpful for the return to school in the fall.
In terms of the resumption of tourist activities, Dr. Arruda “is relying on the good judgment of Quebecers” to ensure that their travels are limited to their “corner of the world” to avoid increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19 throughout the regions.
According to Dr. Arruda, given that the situation remains fragile in the metropolitan area, the right balance is needed. “Until now, things (easing of isolation measures) are going as planned.”