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September 25, 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.

The Montréal Metropolitan community moves into orange alert

The 82 municipalities in the Montréal Metropolitan Community (MMC) have moved into the orange zone, such as the Regional Municipal County of La Rivière-du-Nord, which includes Saint-Jérôme, as outbreaks and the number of people infected with COVID-19 continue to rise.

“The situation continues to be cause for concern and the change in the alert level proves that the situation is serious,” said the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé.

Already, some hospitals in the Montréal area are starting to close beds due to staff shortages. “We must not get to the point where we have to cancel surgeries,” said the national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda.

Special effort for the next 28 days

Minister Dubé reiterated his call yesterday to the entire population to limit social contact for the next 28 days to stop the surge in contagion that is occurring across Québec, contrary to the first wave that was concentrated in the Montréal area.

In order to limit social contact, the recommendation is to cancel dinners among friends, barbecues, parties and all gatherings. “We need to keep contact to a minimum,” said the minister.

Public Health

To alleviate fears and obtain better collaboration among people contacted by health professionals during contact tracing operations in the chain of transmission of COVID-19 when a case is detected, calls from the public network will now be clearly identified by Public Health through caller identification.

Minister Dubé reminded the population of the importance of cooperating with contact tracing investigations in order to stop the spread of the virus. Yesterday, 36,000 tests were conducted thereby increasing the number of cases detected and proving the success of the calls.

5,000 people for reinforcement

The call launched by the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, to people with certain qualifications in health or in leading investigations and surveys to help with testing and follow-up investigations was heard loud and clear by Quebecers. 

“Some 5,000 people have already answered the call. This is good news. And I thank them,” said Mr. Dubé.

People can offer their services by registering on the Québec government’s web platform Jecontribue.ca (https://jecontribuecovid19.gouv.qc.ca/Inscription.aspx).

Bars and restaurants

While the orange alert level has been set for several regions, including Montréal, the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, and the national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, stressed that they do not intend to close bars and restaurants, although they are encouraging people to limit social contact.

They added that, in these venues, the rules are better respected since they are regulated. If these establishments were closed, people would gather anyway in locations where they would not have to respect health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.

At the moment, contagion is spreading during gatherings of friends and family.

By allowing bars and restaurants to remain open, “we want to keep a minimum level of normalcy,” said Mr. Dubé.

Canada purchases an additional 20 million doses of the vaccine

The prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, announced that Canada has signed an agreement with the company AstraZeneca to reserve up to 20 million does of its potential vaccine against COVID-19.

This agreement comes in addition to the ones already signed with the firms Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Moderna to guarantee a potential supply of the various vaccines being developed against COVID-19.

So far, no vaccine has been approved in Canada to prevent COVID-19, but clinical trials

and development testing are currently underway. Health Canada will examine the evidence of efficacy, safety and manufacturing quality of each finalized vaccine before making it available to Canadians.

Protecting the population is the priority

While the second wave of the COVID-19 sweeps across Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau explained that the government’s priority is to ensure the health and safety of the entire population.

“We also have to invest in protecting businesses and supporting workers,” he said, referring to specific expenditures during the pandemic and the fact that public finances allow for this.

Assistance to municipalities

The Canadian and Québec governments are coming to the aid of municipalities for additional expenses and lost revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and promise to respond to the financial challenges brought on by the second wave of contagion that is developing.

The minister of Finance, Éric Girard, the minister of Transport, François Bonnardel, and the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, announced $2.3 billion is aid to Québec’s municipalities, including $1.2 billion specifically for public transit corporations.

The funds allocated to cities will be established shortly and will be determined based on the population. Financial assistance will be increased for cities that have been the most affected by the pandemic.