Quebec tables bill to end state of emergency for COVID-19

Quebec Well being Minister Christian Dubé has tabled a invoice to place an finish to the province’s state of emergency to cope with the COVID-19 well being disaster.

“The tabling of this invoice is consistent with the lifting of most sanitary measures,” Dubé instructed reporters in Quebec Metropolis.

The proposed laws was offered in nationwide meeting Wednesday morning. As soon as the well being emergency order ends then particular measures just like the vaccine passport can’t be introduced again, he stated.

Dubé defined public well being officers may suggest sure measures, however they’d not be obligatory until one other well being emergency was declared.

“To result in populational measures — those who prohibit individuals — it takes a well being emergency,” he stated, including that the federal government doesn’t intend to go that route.

The invoice comes as opposition events and different organizations have repeatedly referred to as on the federal government relinquish its extraordinary powers.

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These powers embody circumventing collective agreements within the well being community and awarding contracts with out a name for tenders.

The Quebec authorities first declared a state of emergency in March 2020, when the pandemic was declared. It has been renewed each 10 days since then — greater than 100 instances so far.

“We’ve needed to finish the state of well being emergency for a very long time,” Dubé stated. “However, sadly, with what occurred with the Omicron wave, we needed to postpone that call.”

Invoice 28 does, nonetheless, suggest giving the federal government some leeway even when the state of emergency is over. Amongst different provisions, this consists of permitting some contracts given throughout that point to be prolonged as much as 5 years.

It additionally states that measures adopted by authorities decree which might be in place on the finish of the state of well being emergency will stay in pressure till Dec. 31, however the authorities can chill out or repeal them by decree.

Dubé stated the invoice will lengthen the usage of telemedicine till the top of the yr, preserve the province’s on-line portal for volunteers and permit a wider vary of well being professionals to proceed administering vaccines. It is going to additionally permit the province to maintain the choice of distance studying at faculties and make it simpler to rehire retired lecturers.

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The well being minister defended the federal government’s resolution to retain some measures, particularly on the subject of extending contracts.

“That is simply sensible,” he stated. “It’s an operational difficulty. We’d like these contracts to be versatile.”

Dubé stated the province must “stay agile” if COVID-19 indicators start to rise once more within the coming months.

“I do know individuals don’t need to hear about it, however there could also be a sixth wave,” he stated.

Public well being officers in Quebec are intently monitoring an uptick in infections in Europe, he added. The opportunity of a sixth wave of the pandemic is one thing that the federal government “can handle proper now.”

Opposition events slam invoice

The long-awaited invoice must be studied by a parliamentary committee earlier than it’s adopted however opposition events had been unimpressed.

Quebec Liberal Get together Chief Dominique referred to as the invoice a “masquerade.”

“To me it certain sounds and appears like they need to hold all of the management till the top, till the top of December 2022,” she stated.

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Vincent Marissal, well being critic with Québec solidaire, stated the proposed laws is akin to the federal government “preserving all of the instruments it has invented and has taken during the last two years.”

“We’re nonetheless on this absurd scenario,” he instructed reporters, including that powers are “concentrated within the palms of some only a few individuals.”

— with information from World Information’ Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press

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