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November 9, 2020 – Federal and provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

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

Vaccination and patience

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was overjoyed by the announcement of the U.S. and German pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and BioNTech, of a 90% effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infections, but reminded Canadians to be patient, since the vaccine will not be available for several months.

The prime minister stated that this is wonderful news and that there is a glimmer of hope. The Canadian government has already purchased millions of doses of the vaccine, which once available, will first be given to the most vulnerable people.

The prime minister added that the vaccine must be kept at a temperature of -65 degrees Celsius, which adds to the logistical challenges that will have to be worked out. He stressed that Canada has the most varied and safest potential vaccines in the world. Mr. Trudeau stated that he is hopeful that future vaccines that are more stable in room temperature will be validated and easier to deploy.

Despite the news, Mr. Trudeau is calling on Canadians to remain vigilant: “Until then, it is very, very important for us to double our efforts. We’ve got to make sure that we control the spread of the virus over the next few weeks.”

National healthcare standards for seniors

While the provinces are calling on the federal government to increase its share of funding for their health programs, Prime Minister Trudeau remained firm about his commitment to adopt national healthcare standards for seniors across the country.

High-speed Internet for all Canadians

As the pandemic has forced people to stay home and work remotely, Internet access has become essential for Canadians to be able to access work, school, government resources and their loved ones.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an additional $750 million, bringing the Universal Broadband Fund to $1.75 billion, so that 98% of Canadians have access to high-speed Internet by 2026, and the entire population by the year 2030.

A $600 million agreement was reached with Telesat, a Canadian communications company, to improve and expand Internet coverage through Low Earth Orbit satellites in Canada’s rural and remote areas and Far North.

Things will get worse before they get better

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, as well as her colleague from Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister Responsible for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Region, Andrée Laforest, warned the population in this region that the pandemic is growing and that the situation will continue to worsen before it improves.

Minister Dubé was present in the region today because, with northern Lanaudière, it is one of the two sectors in Québec where the pandemic is spiking.

While the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region was spared during the first wave of the pandemic this spring, the minister of Health reiterated that the region is no different from the rest of Québec and that it is currently experiencing community contagion.

Quebecers must reduce their social contacts, wear a mask, respect social distancing and wash their hands regularly so that the number of cases comes down.

Message to healthcare workers

The government sent a message to staff members in all health institutions and living environments reminding them to remain vigilant with regard to the health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, reiterated that respecting the guidelines is “even more important when cases start occurring in hospitals and living environments.”

A reminder of the guidelines has been sent out to all CEOs in health institutions to ensure that staff maintains the same vigilance during breaks or when carpooling. “We have to make sure that employees are following the best practices,” said Mr. Dubé.