Quebec Government Update - April 8-14, 2020

16 April 2020

Priority Services

The list of priority services was originally enacted by Decree No. 223-2020 on March 24, 2020. It should be noted that the initial list was modified by Ministerial Orders 2020-016, 2020-017 and 2020- 018 since we last released our newsletter. An unofficial list of priority services is available on the internet (link available here), but it does not replace the official text of the various decrees. If you are uncertain, our professionals can advise your company regarding the interpretation of the list of priority businesses.

On April 13, the public authorities announced the addition of the following sectors to the list of priority services:

  • Mining development activities (as of April 15);
  • Products, parts and other equipment necessary for transportation and logistics services (as of April 15);
  • Landscaping and landscape maintenance (including nurseries, garden centres and businesses selling swimming pools) (as of April 15);
  • Vehicle maintenance and repair (as of April 15).

It should also be noted that Ministerial Order 2020-021 issued on April 14, 2020, in addition to confirming the addition of the above-mentioned sectors, includes the following changes:

  • Replacement of "Pulp and Paper Sector" with "Wood products industry and silvicultural operations" (as of April 15);
  • Addition of "Products, parts and other equipment necessary for transportation and logistics services" (as of April 15).

Finally, as of  our publication date, we are still waiting for the decree that will confirm the announcement made on April 13, 2020 concerning the addition of residential construction to the list of priority services according to the following terms:

  • Residential construction in order to complete the delivery of residential units scheduled to take place no later than July 31, 2020. This includes construction and renovation work (as of April  20).

The Quebec government is working with the Direction de la santé publique and the CNESST (Labour standards, pay equity and workplace health and safety board) to establish specific health recommendations for sectors authorized to resume their activities. Health inspectors will be able to impose sanctions and penalties on companies that do not comply with these recommendations. 

Asked about economic recovery, the Premier said that the development of public transit and infrastructure projects will be accelerated. To this end, the provincial government requires the federal government's assistance.

Physical distancing

The Government of Quebec announced the cancellation of indoor and outdoor festivals and cultural events until August 31, 2020.

This said, the regular activities of Quebec sports federations will be authorized to resume in some fashion, subject to compliance with health rules and, in particular, physical distancing. Organizers of sports events, including professional sports, will be able to contact public authorities to assess the possibility of maintaining their events.

At a press conference a few days ago, the Premier mentioned the possibility of allowing schools and daycare centres to reopen before May 4, 2020. In this regard, public authorities are considering several scenarios, including reopening by region, rearranging classrooms and optional student attendance. However, as of April 14, 2020, the Prime Minister ruled out a short-term reopening.

Travel restrictions

On March 28, 2020, the Minister of Health and Social Services adopted Decree No. 2020-11, which added travel restrictions to eight "health regions" on top of the various Quebec containment measures, and several other decrees further extended this list of health regions. As of April 14, there are 14 health regions affected in whole or in part by these measures.

These regions are as follows:

1) Entire region: Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Nord-du-Québec, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Nunavik and Cree Territory of James Bay; and

2) Partial region: the Laurentides, Lanaudière, Mauricie, Centre-du-Québec, the Capitale-Nationale and Chaudière-Appalaches regions.

There are several circumstances under which someone is allowed to travel to one of the 14 health administration regions. Such travel is permitted only:

  • For individuals whose principal residence is located in one of the regions;
  • For the shipment of goods in order to ensure the continuity of activities in priority services as set out in the decree of March 24;
  • For travel necessary for humanitarian purposes;
  • For travel necessary to obtain required health care or to provide such health care;
  • For people in the practice of professions in these regions that are also covered by the decree of  March 24 relating to priority activities, and any changes to it;
  • For individuals required to comply with an order contained in a judgment rendered by a court (or to exercise parental custody or access rights contained in an agreement);
  • For people arriving directly from an area to which access is limited;
  • For federal public service employees whose place of work is located in one of these regions;
  • For persons transporting goods through Quebec for a company or organization.

It should also be noted that additional restrictions apply to residents of the cities of Rouyn-Noranda, Gatineau, Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs and one sector in Boisbriand.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.