Quebec reports three new COVID-19 deaths; Premier Legault calls on police to be 'less tolerant'
MONTREAL -- Quebec Premier Francois Legault on Thursday called on provincial and local police forces to be "less tolerant" of gatherings and people not respecting physical-distancing guidelines.
Police forces should and will move from informing people of the province's public-health directives to enforcing them - including the issuing of tickets and fines that could run up to $6,000, Legault said.
"That is what they deserve," Legault said of people refusing to comply with publc health orders during the pandemic.
He added that police forces in the province have already received more than 7,000 tips from the public about people flouting the government's orders.
"It's a question of life or death," Legault said. "If everyone follows the rules, we will save lives."
Legault also warned people operating non-essential businesses in Quebec that they too can expect increased enforcement by police.
Quebec on Thursday reported three new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the number of people in the province who have died from the disease to 36.
Health authorities also reported that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec rose to 5,518, up 907 from the 4,611 reported 24 hours earlier
There are now 365 Quebecers being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals (up 58 from Wednesday); 96 of them are in intensive care, up 14 from a day earlier.
Montreal continues to have far and away the most COVID-19 cases in Quebec, with 2,642. You can find a complete regional breakdown here.
Quebec continues to have the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, which health authorities have said is a result of the province's spring break having started earlier than in other provinces, Quebec's increased numbers of people tested, and the fact that Quebec includes presumptive cases among its daily tally of confirmed ones.
As of Thursday afternoon, 4,871 Quebecers were awaiting COVID-19 test results; 69,024 tests have so far come back negative.
Regarding the Quebec health system's capacity to deal with the deepening COVID-19 crisis, Legault said the province has enough ventilators on hand to deal with even the most pessimistic COVID-19 projections, and that his government is working on shoring up other critical supplies.
"All institutions in Quebec have enough equipment for the next week," said Legault. "We’re working hard on the orders. ... There are also Quebec companies that are preparing to take over" production of needed supplies.
Legault also saluted the efforts of healthcare workers in the province throughout the pandemic and announced that his government will spend an additional $287 million on temporarily increasing salaries and providing added health safeguards for workers with direct contact with COVID-19 patients.
The province also announced that workers at private residences for seniors, which have been hit hard by COVID-19, will also receive the temporary raises.