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May 6, 2020 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 situation

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.

Mental health

The deputy premier of Québec, Geneviève Guilbault, and the minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, announced a COVID-19 mental health action plan with a budget of $31 M.

“The major fight we’re waging against COVID-19 to protect our physical health cannot be done at the expense of our mental health. We don’t have to choose between the two,” said Ms Guilbault, in the context of National Mental Health Week.

With this investment, resources can be deployed to improve and increase the offer of psychosocial and mental health services. This includes hiring professionals who usually practise in the private sector.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been a 15% increase in people who say they are in distress. “That’s seven times more than before the health crisis,” said Minister McCann.

Daycares to reopen at 30% capacity

Daycares will gradually open to 30% of their capacity starting next week, with the exception of those in the metropolitan area, which will stay closed until May 18.

“It’s clear that we won’t be able to open daycares the same way as before (…), to 100% capacity, from one day to the next. We are well aware that this will complicate things for many parents,” said the deputy premier.

Logistical challenges for schools

Underlining that the school network is also facing major logical challenges, the deputy premier asked Quebecers to put themselves in “solution mode” and to be “tolerant and understanding” as elementary students return to the classroom next week, except in the Montréal area.

Risks for people 70 years of age and over

It is legitimate for teachers and educators in the school network to be anxious about returning to work, but the deputy premier reiterated that the risk of complications from COVID-19, according to Public Health, pertains more to people 70 years of age and over.

“So it will be possible for teachers and educators between the ages of 60 and 69 to return to work as of next week,” she said.

Caring for grandchildren

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, stated that there is no contradiction between allowing school staff between the ages of 60 and 69 to work with children while prohibiting grandparents from looking after their grandchildren.

“It’s not the same context of affiliation, not the same type of relationship,” he said.

Golf, fishing, baseball, etc.

Ms Guilbault and Dr. Arruda stated that announcements will be made shortly regarding the resumption of certain leisure and sports activities, particularly where physical distancing is easier, such as with golf and fishing.

Analyses are currently underway and some of these activities will be permitted in a logical sequence of gradually easing isolation measures, particularly with the arrival of the nice weather, said Dr. Arruda.

Medical releases for detainees

Detention centres can authorize the release of detainees who have less than 30 days to serve, for medical purposes in the context of the pandemic, announced Deputy Premier Guilbault.

Only detainees who committed minor crimes or who are vulnerable to COVID-19 will be eligible for early release.

“I want to reassure everyone (…) that no prisoner who committed a violent crime will be released from detention. I want to be very clear about that,” she said.

Acknowledgement of municipal elected officials

Deputy Premier Guilbault thanked municipal elected officials who are also frontline workers, but in a different way. “They are very important allies, conveyors of important information, who have been working seven days a week since the beginning to help our fellow citizens,” she said.