Premier Legault suggested during his daily briefing Wednesday that the Quebec government is working with public health experts to “prepare the gradual end to the economic pause sooner than later.” He then warned that Quebecers should get used to the two-metre physical distancing guideline as “it is going to be with us for months.” Legault also addressed some of the reasons why restarting the economy is not a simple matter, especially in light of social distancing and the complications this poses for schools, daycares and public transportation.
Legault reported another 25 deaths due to COVID-19, to bring the total number to 175. There are now 10,031 positive cases in Quebec, an increase of 691, with 632 people in hospital including 181 being treated in intensive care. In the Montérégie, the number jumped to 1,034, however there was relatively little change in the immediate area. The MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent is still reporting only 6 cases, and the Jardins-de-Napierville remained stable with no increase in the last 24 hours with 23 cases. There was an increase of 5 cases in Beauharnois-Salaberry for a total of 45 and the number in Vaudreuil-Soulanges rose by 6 to 113.
Health Minister Danielle McCann acknowledged the crisis is hitting the long-term care network and seniors’ residences particularly hard. She reported that workers from the hospital network would now be reinforcing the personnel available in CHSLDs and residences to help relieve overworked staff. She also noted that the government would be moving to systematically test all residents and staff in the long-term care network to try and better manage the situation.
Earlier this morning, Legault announced that along with the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny was immune to the virus and had been granted essential status.
Prime Minister Trudeau used his daily address to speak to those who so far have been ineligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). He announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program, including an increase to the wage subsidy up to 100%, an extension of the work period to February 2021, and the possibility of hiring part-time workers. He suggested measures would also be coming to respond to the needs of seniors who have seen much of their savings disappear, for home care workers and those working ten hour or less per week, and for those employed in the gig economy.
Trudeau also announced relaxed standards for the wage subsidy for employers. Companies will now only need to show a 15 percent drop in revenue in March, and will now be able to use January and February as reference points. The government is working to roll out the program as soon as possible. Trudeau stressed that it is important, and that it needs “to be done quickly, but properly.”
Update (9:05 pm): Several cities in the West Island of Montreal were informed of two positive cases of COVID-19 amongst the employees of Costco in Vaudreuil. The first employee worked his last shift on March 31 and the second on April 3rd. Several municipalities have recommended that residents who were at the store between March 31 and April 6 self-quarantine for 14 days counting from the date of their last visit.