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November 2, 2020 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

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

$100 million for mental health  

In the aftermath of the stabbing rampage in Old Québec on Saturday night, the Québec government fast tracked its announcement of an additional contribution of $100 million to mental health.

“The (medical) experts are telling us that there’s an increase in mental health cases in the context of the pandemic […] because people with mental illness are more isolated and at risk of developing problems,” said Premier François Legault.

While acknowledging the risk related to mental health among the population due to the health restrictions imposed by the fight against the spread of COVID-19, Premier Legault reiterated that it is important to assess “the pros and cons of these inconveniences,” while admitting that some people are finding themselves even more isolated than ever.

Unprecedented investment

Minister Carmant presented the broad framework of the $100-million aid package to respond to mental health needs, stressing that this is an “unprecedented investment into both mental health and psychosocial health in response to the equally unprecedented pandemic situation .”

This investment was supposed to be presented as part of the Québec government’s economic update on November 12, but was fast tracked.

The program is comprised of five tiers :

  • $35 million for services in the private sector and prioritizing access to care among youth between the ages of 17 and 29;
  • $31.1 million will support increased services in public institutions;
  • $19 million will go to interventions on the ground among vulnerable clienteles
  • $10 million for community organizations in mental health;
  • $4.9 million to accelerate the deployment of the digital strategy for suicide prevention.

Minister Carmant reiterated that 50% of people suffering from mental health problems are not receiving medical attention.

No such thing as zero risk

The minister for Health and Social Services, Dr. Lionel Carmant, agreed that regardless of the programs, “we can’t prevent all of these exceptional cases” where people cause tragedies, like the massacres at Polytechnique and Concordia, or the rampage in Old Québec on Saturday night.

“There’s no single measure that can make a difference in and of itself. It’s very sad, but zero risk just doesn’t exist,” said Minister Carmant, who is also a neurologist.

Heightened convictions

 Mr. Legault admitted that the second wave is reinforcing the convictions of those opposed to isolation measures, but stressed that all of the world’s governments are facing with the same situation and the same obligations.

“I understand that some Quebecers are fed up and angry about the measures, but they’re a minority. We have to juggle quality of life and life itself. We can’t save lives without affecting the quality of life of citizens,” reiterated Premier Legault.