Thursday, October 8th, 2020
Dear Premier François Legault,
On September 8th, the Quebec government announced a new colour-coded regional alert system to provide targeted and restrictive procedures to slow the spread of Covid-19. This new alert system was framed as an additional measure for community safety. But what exactly is your government’s definition of “safety” Premier Legault? When your government speaks to the “safety” of its citizens, what exactly are they referring to? Is your administration implying Covid-related physical health? What about your citizen’s mental health? Their financial security? Their long-term economic safety? Rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and stress-related burnout continue to rise among those most affected by the governmental restrictions and to what end? Who exactly are we trying to protect with these new health-related policies? The goalposts keep moving Premier Legault and it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify in what way the benefits outweigh the costs.
When the colour-coded regional alert was first introduced, Quebecers were informed that the Maximum Alert (red zone) would only be implemented if three precise criteria were met. This decision-making tool was designed to provide additional transparency with regards to the implementation of governmental policies, however, it was subsequently removed and replaced with a vague description of three underlying criteria that are considered to form the premise for the province’s progressive regional alert and intervention system (https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/progressive-regional-alert-and-intervention-system/). Premier Legault, if these three criteria are in fact being used to provide evidence for widespread regional closures, should the inhabitants of these regions not have the right to access the detailed data that is being used to support this decision-making process? What exactly is the province’s current healthcare system (hospital/ICU) capacity and how is this capacity calculated? Although positive cases continue to rise across Quebec, hospitalizations and intensive care cases remain relatively stable. If this is the case, why then does our administration continue to cite “rising cases” as justification for increased restrictions on individual freedoms, sanitary measures, and businesses (e.g., physical activity services and restaurants)? Why is the government not educating the greater community on Infection Fatality Ratios (IFR)? IFR are well known as essential markers of infectious disease, especially in determining the true severity of a novel disease, as well as identifying at-risk populations and informing health-related policies. The current IFR of Covid-19 in Quebec is 7.3 %, whereby 91.6 % of deaths occurred in individuals who were over the age of seventy. To be clear, these numbers are not meant to invalidate the atrocities that occurred in our CHSLDs or to undermine the grief and pain of relatives who lost loved ones, but to provide a foundation for the objective evaluation of current policies under the province’s Level-4 Maximum Alert. At the peak of the pandemic (Wednesday, April 29th) Quebec recorded over 1,000 daily cases with 152 Covid-related deaths. On Friday, October 2, the province recorded over 1,000 daily cases with a weekly moving average of 7.1 deaths. Montreal accounts for 4.5 million inhabitants. That is 4.5 million inhabitants being instructed to remain in partial lockdown for less than 10 Covid-attributed deaths and 67 intensive care hospitalizations across the entire province of Quebec. A province that represents 8.5 million inhabitants.
How do we justify these numbers, Premier Legault? How does the current data support the province’s Maximum Alert policies? How can our administration continue to defend the large-scale closures of restaurants, gyms, and sports activities, as well as the prohibition of all private and public gatherings while stores remain open? When entering the red-zone, inhabitants were reassured by policymakers that “it will end in 28 days” but will it? For all we know, these widespread restrictions are just an inkling of what is to come. How can an administrative body continue to justify the separation of families, the curtailing of basic rights and the widespread propagation of fear that outweighs empirical evidence? The closures of gyms and sports facilities is one of many questionable decisions that lacks strong empirical justification. Physical activity, especially sport-related activities, is a profound mental health resource, especially in times of uncertainty. Your population has the right to greater transparency, especially when affecting a 28-day curtailing of many basic services and freedoms.
Of course, all of this not to refute that we, as a nation, are fighting a novel virus; a virus that has killed and will continue to kill certain at-risk individuals. However, this is an appeal to re-evaluate several questionable policies that are no longer supported by published data. It is a call for increased transparency in the decision-making process that continues to affect countless lives. When does enough, become enough, Mr. Legault? When will your government begin to seriously consider the mental health and psychological wellbeing of your citizens at the expense of “public safety”. Once again, Mr. Legault, I ask: what is this safety that you are describing?
A concerned citizen of the (Montreal) Level 4- Maximum Alert (red zone)
- Below is a comparison of the “peaks” of Quebec’s first and second COVID waves. Based on these numbers, I ask for your government to please provide further justification for the severe restrictions that you have implemented with your 28-day lockdown. Your citizens deserve a more thorough explanation than the routine response of a “increase rise in positive cases and hospitalization.