Claiming the COVID-19 situation is “critical” because of increased positive cases in recent days, Quebec Premier François Legault declared a Red Alert and new restrictions for Montreal, Laval, and the South Shore, as well as Quebec City, from at least Oct. 1 to Oct. 28.
“If nothing changes, in the next few weeks we can expect an increase in deaths and a sharp increase in hospitalizations,” the Premier contended at a press conference Monday afternoon. “This might overwhelm our hospitals and force us to postpone surgeries and other urgent treatments.”
The new restrictions include:
• No visits to one’s home from people living at another address. A “single visitor from another address for single individuals” is allowed, as are “informal caregivers, individuals offering services or support and labour for planned work.”
• At CHSLDs and private seniors residence, there can be “visits for humanitarian purposes, visits by informal caregivers — one person at a time and a maximum of two people per day in CHSLDs.”
• Private gatherings are prohibited.
• Activities organized in a public place are prohibited, “except for places of worship and funerals,” during which there can only be a maximum of 25 people — a register must be kept.
• Inter-regional travel is “not recommended toward a green, yellow or orange zone and outside Quebec, except for essential travel, workers, shared custody and freight transportation.”
• Auditoriums, cinemas, theatres, libraries and museums are once again closed.
• Restaurants are open for take-out, but not for on-site dining. Bars, taverns and casinos are closed altogether.
• Schools remain open, as do businesses, boutiques and stores — during the last lockdown, non-essential businesses, including most parts of malls, were closed.
• Private professional and health services are “open only for services that require an individual’s presence.”
Workers at CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée were left to fend for themselves to face one of the worst outbreaks in Quebec, says the province’s largest healthcare workers union.
The investigation report into the COVID-19 outbreak at CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée where 100 residents died illustrates the extent of the management errors that were made during the first wave of the pandemic says the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN), and should direct the government to make changes to ensure the protection of staff and users.
Yves Benoit’s July report identifies several problems denounced by the local union: lack of staff, lack of personal protective equipment, insufficient protection and prevention measures, staff displacement and late screening of staff and users.
“We absolutely have to learn from our mistakes and do better for the second wave, in particular by focusing on staff stability and screening,” says CISSS-Laval employees union president Marjolaine Aubé.
The report further highlights management difficulties in the health and social services network, in particular by noting the many hierarchical levels that hinder decision-making, something the FSSS-CSN points to as a failure of the mega-establishment legacy of the Barrette reform under the previous Liberal government. The union further calls for an urgent review of the organization of the network to focus on decentralization, democratization and team autonomy.
“The government must also announce an increase in personnel protection measures. It not only lacked equipment, but the staff is especially poorly equipped to deal with the virus in long-term care centers… The crisis in CHSLDs finally shows the need to make up for the shortfall in funding for the network from Liberal austerity as of the next budget update.”
“The pandemic has shown the weakness of our hyper-centralized network” says FSSS-CSN president Jeff Begley. “Just adding another layer of guidelines isn’t going to magically sort it out.”
The pandemic highlighted existing gaps in the network, said Minister for Seniors Marguerite Blais in response to the report. “The investigation reports of the CHSLD Herron and Sainte-Dorothée indicate this. The government responded quickly to the findings in these reports. Not only have the major changes taken served to prepare us for the second wave, our actions are sustainable, and their benefits will continue after the pandemic.”