There is currently in Quebec a reserve of 5 million N-95 masks. This means that we have a reserve of 250 days of N-95. BUT, it’s 250 reserve days with very restrictive mask allocation rules.
The government refuses to provide masks to the majority of employees working in the red and yellow zones under the pretext that COVID is not transmitted by aerosol. Increasingly, science is telling us that this is not true; COVID can also be transmitted by aerosolization.
When science is unable to provide a definitive answer, precautionary measures must be taken. Not providing N-95 masks to anyone working in a red or yellow zone only puts our health care workers at risk and may contribute to spreading contamination within our health care institutions and bring the system crashing down from within.
Let’s be clear, the current guidelines are not occupational health and safety guidelines but guidelines for managing shortages in times of pandemic. If we have a reserve of 250 days of N-95 with the current guidelines, how many days of reserve would we have if we applied THE necessary measure: provide N-95 masks to everyone in the red and yellow zones?
Not much and yet the government has not taken any initiative for 9 months to have a public company produce N-95 masks in Quebec.
The same applies to swabs (swabs that are inserted into the nostrils to perform COVID tests) and laboratory reagents. There is still a shortage 9 months after the start of the pandemic. For example, with its resources the MUHC can only perform 4000 tests per day and even then, with the lack of products, it rarely exceeds 3600 per day. Why don’t we manufacture in Quebec what we need so much? Why doesn’t the government ever talk about a Hydro-type of enterprise for our health care?
If we are able in Quebec to produce electricity with a public company like Hydro, because it is in our national interest to do so, we should be able to produce everything we need to fight a pandemic.
The citizens’ fault….
The government is blaming the pandemic entirely on citizens who do not sufficiently respect the instructions for distancing and reducing contact. IF the pandemic persists it is not just the fault of people who are reluctant to wear masks.
The lack of government initiative is clearly to blame. It manifests itself by the refusal of any initiative to manufacture, in Quebec, under public control :
– N-95 masks and other protective equipment
– swabs ;
– reagents for analyzing samples from the population.
In addition. There has been no government initiative to force the 191 pharmaceutical companies present in Quebec to make their laboratory equipment and personnel available to the government in order to increase our testing capacity. The more tests we do, the more we are able to quickly intercept contagious people, isolate them and thus reduce the spread of COVID.
We are at war with COVID and in wartime the government requisitions everything it needs to win the war: men, women… and industries.
Nothing has been requisitioned except public sector employees who are forced to work overtime or forced to work in multiple departments or locations, which in any case should be outlawed in times of pandemic and forced to work without N-95 masks for most job titles.
And now the vaccine
In Quebec, we have been heavily subsidizing pharmaceutical companies since the early 1990s and despite this, we are still not able to produce vaccines in Quebec. We support these companies with public money, but decisions are made in secret within the boards of directors without the slightest constraint to meet the needs of the population.
A change of direction is urgently needed!
We’ve been waiting 9 months for a vaccine and yet there has been no government initiative to provide the public sector with the means for mass production of vaccines. Clearly, we, the citizens, are going to be second only to the countries that have the means of production.
We want real measures to fight the pandemic. It’s enough to limit ourselves to juggling with the degree of containment and the restriction of contacts, we must attack the problem at the source. In Quebec, policies and means of production in the public sector must be adopted:
– sufficient numbers of N-95 masks
– swabs for testing
– reagent products for laboratory analysis
until we have the means to produce ourselves, we must also :
– Requisition equipment and personnel from private pharmaceutical companies in order to be able to massively test health personnel and citizens.
Mr. Legault, beyond the wearing of masks and distancing which are individual responsibilities, you have governmental responsibilities, starting with not endangering the health of the “guardian angels” by the lack of N-95 masks, and you also have the responsibility to provide Quebec with the means to produce what we need so much.