Quebec Premier François Legault is reminding Quebecers that fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus and preventing a second wave is a shared responsibility.
Despite an uptick in cases in recent weeks, Legault said Quebec is not yet in a second wave, but warned that controlling the pandemic is the main prerequisite for a return to normal life.
On Friday, Quebec reported 219 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total caseload since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic to 64,463.
The number of people requiring hospitalization because of the illness rose by four for a total of 123. Of those, 12 are in intensive care.
In Quebec, 5,774 deaths have been linked to the virus. No new deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.
On Thursday, Legault warned that authorities will be cracking down on COVID-19 violations as of Saturday by handing out fines to individuals who are not wearing masks where it is required, such as public transit or indoor public spaces.
“Even if I put in place all the imaginable measures … we need the collaboration of Quebecers,” he said. “We know that most cases of transmission occur in homes but we can’t start checking in every home in Quebec.”
Legault made the comments during a provincial COVID-19 briefing on Friday following the wrap-up of a Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) pre-session caucus.
The premier said CAQ MNAs from around the province had brought forth concerns from residents with the main preoccupations being health and the economy and recovering jobs that were lost.
While many sectors of the economy were particularly hard-hit by the pandemic Legault said Quebec is doing relatively well.
“Quebec up until now has a rate of unemployment that is lower than in Ontario and the rest of Canada,” he said, ” so our recovery was accelerated.”
He warned, however, that the struggle wasn’t over it and that several challenges remain.
Structural changes to various industries means that some jobs won’t be coming back Legault said, adding that Labour Minister Jean Boulet is working hard on developing a re-qualification program for affected workers to get training in new fields.
“All those who agree to go study in IT will have jobs,” he said, pointing to a shift to online retail business as an example.
Legault said another challenge is the slowdown in international commercial trade that is expected to continue for months, if not years.
And while Quebec businesses won’t be able to rely on the growth of exports, Legault said it does open up the door to new opportunities.
“It opens up a significant opportunity to replace part of our imports with products made in Quebec,” he said. “Investissement Québec is now identifying the sectors where we can produce more in Quebec products that were imported from elsewhere.”
He also reminded Quebecers of the importance of the role they play when it comes to buying local .
The Legault government also plans on submitting a new bill to replace Bill 61.
Bill 61 was tabled in June with the the goal of fast-tracking construction projects during the pandemic.
Oppostion parties raised several concerns with the bill fearing it would give the CAQ too much power which could lead to corruption and the disregard of environmental standards.
Legault said while the new bill is important for the economy it’s more a question of efficiency.
“We want all of our projects, our school projects, our hospitals, seniors residences, our road projects, our public transportation projects to be undertaken more quickly.”