Deconfinement in Montreal pushed to May 25: New bonuses available for full-time health workers

By Matthew McCully

During the daily COVID-19 briefing, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said due to a lack of health sector workers in the Greater Montreal area, the plan to reopen schools and businesses in the city will be delayed until May 25.
Two factors led to the decision: the necessity of the contagion being under control, and the availability of hospital beds.
While the rate of infection is stabilizing, Legault said the staffing shortage in hospitals needs to be addressed before a plan to reopen schools can move forward.
There are currently 11,600 employees absent from the health network. Among those still working, roughly 50 per cent are part-time.
Legault announced a bonus of up to $1,000 per month for employees willing to work full-time for a minimum of one month in hospital hot zones or seniors’ residences and CHSLDs in Montreal with COVID-19 cases.
During question period Public Health Department Director Horacio Arruda was asked to clarify apparent contradictions regarding risks to the population.
A week after the back to work directive for daycares, certain retail stores and the reopening of schools, the age cap to go back to work was pushed from 60 to 70 years old.
Also, the ratio of children to daycare workers, supposed to have been 10:1, was bumped up to 15:1.
Arruda explained that in daycares, the criteria for safety is related more to social distancing than ratios of children.
As for sending people between 60 and 69 back to work, Arruda said the risk was low and wouldn’t want the province accused of ageism for denying them the opportunity to re-enter the workforce.
There were 121 new deaths in the last day bringing the total in Quebec to 2,631.
There are currently 35,238 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, up 911 from the day before. Of the positive cases in the province, 880 are in the Estrie region, an increase of eight from the day before. The number of deaths in the Estrie to date is 25. There have been no new deaths related to the virus in the area in the past 11 days. Locally, 36 patients are in hospital, four of which are in intensive care. As of Monday, there were 18 patients staying in recovery centre set up on Galt West in Sherbrooke last week. Of those, 17 were recovered from the virus and were awaiting a placement in a CHSLD, while one remained ill, but not requiring hospitalization.
The total number of hospitalizations in the province is 1,836, down 4 from the day before. Quebec has 224 patients in intensive care, up 11 from the day before.
There are currently 8,600 confirmed recoveries from COVID-19 in the province.
According to premier Legault, 91% of the deaths were people 70 years old or over.

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