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Press release
30 April 2020

COVID-19 : Public Health First

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The Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Pierre Arcand, is sounding the alarm on the preoccupying situation that is affecting Montreal in the fight against Covid-19. Hospital emergency rooms are overflowing, the situation in long-term health-care facilities is not yet under control and community transmission is ongoing. These worrisome signs are raising doubts about the government’s desire to begin deconfinement.

Mr. Arcand recalls the 6 requirements announced by the World Health Organization (OMS) for safe deconfinement:

  • Mastering the virus’ transmission;
  • Ensuring an adequate public health care offer;
  • Minimizing the risk in exposed environments, such as long-term health-care facilities;
  • Implementing prevention measures in the workplace, in schools and in other frequented areas;
  • Controlling the risk of imported cases;
  • Empowering the population to be accountable.

These conditions are currently far from being met in Montreal. The situation is particularly critical in the Montreal-North, St-Michel and Rivière-des-Prairies neighbourhoods. The ability to test people afflicted with the virus is crucial to winning this battle, however very few tests are currently being done.

For weeks now, MNAs have been questioning public health officials as well as government stakeholders to understand why the number of tests has slowed over the past weeks. On the threshold of deconfinement, the ability to test becomes even more imperative in the effort to quickly identify those that are infected. François Legault’s government promises to increase the number of screening tests, but this intention has yet to materialize.

Our primary concern is health and that is currently far from under control. Montreal’s health care network is overwhelmed and deconfinement has not even begun yet. One only has to look to the occupancy levels in Montreal-area hospitals. Can the authorities ensure that they will be able to care for all those that become infected once we have gradually begun to open stores and businesses? We are incredibly preoccupied and the low capacity to test at present is concerning to us as we look to the future. All countries that have undertaken deconfinement have increased the number of tests. No screening strategies have been presented for Quebec.

—Pierre Arcand, Leader of the Official Opposition

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