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October 13, 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.

New regions enter the red zone in Québec

While the number of cases in Québec appears to be stabilizing, three new regions in Québec transitioned to maximum alert (red zone), namely, Montérégie, Centre-du-Québec and the National Capital, including Charlevoix, while Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean transitioned to orange. The new measures will apply as of Friday.

Québec Premier François Legault noted that while community transmission seems to have stabilized, it is premature to celebrate, as the virus continues to spread in regions other than Montréal and Québec City.

He thanked the population for their efforts to reduce social contact.

For another few months

Premier Legault let it be known that the restrictions put in place to control the spread of the virus will remain in effect for months to come.

“There’s no magic recipe, we need to reduce social contact,” he said, adding that the solution is both simple and complicated.

“We’ll have to follow these measures for several more months. We must be patient,” said the premier.

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, confirmed that “we can’t go back to the freedoms we had this summer until the situation has been fundamentally stabilized.”

Mr. Legault said that every country has played “yoyo” with the restrictive measures as a way of describing the tightening, loosening and then tightening again of the health safety measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

National standards for senior care

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned to the idea of introducing national standards across Canada to guarantee good senior care following the high number of deaths that occurred in seniors’ residences.

The prime minister plans to resume talks with the provincial premiers on Thursday, during their weekly teleconference on COVID-19.

“It’s up to all of us to work together to ensure quality care for all seniors,” said Mr. Trudeau.

Québec Premier François Legault does not think national standards are necessary and reiterated that the provinces have unanimously called for an unconditional increase in federal transfers for health, an exclusively provincial area of jurisdiction.

He added that in the spring up to 8,000 people were infected in seniors’ residences in Québec while at present the number is 400.

240,000 applications for financial assistance

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that by yesterday 240,000 applications had already been submitted for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), which replaces the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The CRB enables people who are unemployed but are not entitled to employment insurance to receive $500 a week for up to 26 weeks.

Getting the flu vaccination

As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to infect growing numbers of people across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to get the flu vaccination to protect themselves and to reduce the pressure on health networks.