No more daily COVID-19 updates from Quebec; Trudeau hopes Legault continues to be 'transparent and open'
MONTREAL -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said he hopes Quebec Premier Francois Legault will continue to be transparent with Quebecers about the state of COVOD-19 in the province.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Trudeau responded to a question about Quebec's announcement on Wednesday that it will no longer be providing daily updates on COVID-19 as it has been since the start of the pandemic, but rather weekly.
While Trudeau said "every province makes its own decisions about how transparent it needs to be and how much it will provide data and information to its citizens," and that some with few active cases may choose not to provide daily updates, he noted the fact that the pandemic is still very much active in Quebec. (The province has the most deaths and confirmed cases in Canada by a wide margin).
"In Quebec there's still very much a significant number of cases every single day, significant numbers of deaths unfortunately every single day," Trudeau said, "and I certainly hope that Premier Legault would continue to be transparent and open with the Quebecers, and indeed with all Canadians, as he has been from the very beginning.”
Quebec's ministry of health announced its new COVID-19 data reporting schedule via a press release on Wednesday, the Fete Nationale statutory holiday in Quebec, just two days after Legault shuffled Treasury Board president Christian Dube into the health portfolio, replacing previous health minister Danielle McCann.
The health ministry said beginning July 2 it will only provide the statistics on a weekly basis.
A note on the website of Quebec's Institut national de sante publique (INSPQ), the provincial public health institute, had initially said the agency will continue to report COVID-19 data on weekdays, beginning Monday, which would follow the same reporting schedule recently adopted by Montreal's public health department.
However, a revised note posted on the INSPQ site Thursday morning said it too would be following the health ministry's weekly reporting schedule.
Health Department spokeswoman Marie-Claude Lacasse said Quebec is switching to weekly updates to be issued every Thursday because the epidemiological situation is stabilizing.
The department "will continue to follow the situation closely and will adjust its reporting strategy as needed," she wrote in an email.
Alexandre Lahaie, a spokesman for Dube, said in an email Thursday the change in reporting originated with the Health Department and not the new minister.
Quebec issued its final daily COVID-19 Thursday, reporting seven more deaths and 142 new cases.
Horacio Arruda, Quebec's national director of public health, met with reporters in Montreal Thursday afternoon to discuss the province's latest deconfinement measures.
Arruda said it is common for epidemiologists to publish weekly as data can fluctuate from day to day, and weekly updates better establish trends.
"It's not a question of hiding anything," he said. "If there's a situation in one area, and anything needs to be communicated, it will be communicated…. Be assured that if there's a specific situation or transmission in a community, people will be made aware, I want to be very clear on this."
- The Canadian Press contributed to this report.