COVID-19: Legault denies having shunned Ottawa’s help on contact tracing

François Legault denies having shunned the help offered by Ottawa to warn people who have been in contact with coronavirus patients. Its health minister argues that it took a long time to come to an agreement with Ottawa to use its operators. But the federal side retorts that the offer of help was ignored until the end of September.

The duty revealed Thursday that the Quebec government has availed itself of only a tiny fraction of the Statistics Canada telephone operators made available to it this summer by the government of Justin Trudeau to help find contacts in the province. The federal agency currently makes 14,000 contact tracing calls per day in three provinces, including only 1,000 in Quebec.

“All the labor that we can get for tracing, including at the federal level, we are going to get it,” said Mr. Legault. “We already have people from the federal [mobilisées] then, if they have more available, we’ll take them. “

However, his government has not been able to explain why this aid has not yet been further withheld. Mr. Legault, his Minister of Health Christian Dubé and the public health departments have been complaining for weeks that epidemiological teams are struggling to find all the contacts of new cases of COVID-19 from the second wave.

“I’m going to be frank with you, I find it took a very long time to come to an agreement with the federal government,” said Minister Dubé. “I don’t know exactly what happened. “

Ignored help

In Ottawa, they reply that the delay “does not come from our region”. Statistics Canada instead submitted an offer of agreement on June 12, but Quebec did not respond until September 21, according to a federal source. The two governments signed on September 23 – two days after Quebec said it was in wave two.

Federal Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages ​​Mélanie Joly has called on the Quebec government to accept more federal aid now. “There are options on the table, resources that are available. And it is important to be able to use them, because even today there are 1078 [nouveaux] case [au Québec] », She argued. “Whether it’s an official from Quebec or from Ottawa calling someone to say they’ve been in contact with a COVID-19 case, it doesn’t matter. “

In Quebec, we repeat that it is “wrong” to suggest that we refuse aid just because it is federal. About a hundred Statistics Canada agents are mobilized for the moment and more will be added soon. The government has also launched a call for volunteers via the Je Contribue platform and is trying to find reinforcements within various professional orders. Once responses to these calls are received, the Department of Health will determine if it is seeking further assistance from Ottawa.

Statistics Canada offers provinces to make up to 20,000 contact tracing calls per day in their jurisdictions, and even more if the demand is greater.

In data | To know everything about COVID-19

I Contribute will be reviewed

Minister Dubé also acknowledged that the Je Contribue platform did not allow reinforcements to be recruited quickly enough. Some 10,000 Quebecers have submitted their names over the past two weeks, but only 500 of them have been contacted.

The minister explained that the system filters the offers of help by proximity to the CIUSSS in need of manpower, rather than matching people with the skills in demand with the centers that need them most. The first sorting of these applications will therefore be transferred to the Ministry of Health. “Because at the moment it is not yet effective enough and I am afraid that we will lose good people,” said the minister.

Former health professionals have rightly reported to the Duty trying to offer help, to no avail.

A former nurse registered for the Je Contribue site two weeks ago, before being invited by the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale to complete a service offer form in which she specified that she had experience in investigation. . The completed document was returned on September 25. Despite an acknowledgment of receipt, this person remains without news from the CIUSSS. A follow-up email also went unanswered.

A retired doctor, for her part, deplored having contacted the Montreal public health department by email ten days ago, offering her part-time services. She still has no news.

With Isabelle Porter

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