Testimony | Québec local politics rant

Maya Khamala is a freelance writer and journalist living in Montreal. You can find her here.

« Yeah, so really tired of feeling there’s no better recourse than bloody facebook, but alas.

1. Fear won’t save your ass…

During yesterday’s daily press conference, good ol’ Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economic Development, when asked by a reporter (although I am not giving credit to reporters for their hard-hitting questions) whether employees were being given an option of whether or not to go back to work, just as parents are been giving the option of whether or not to send their kids to school, he responded only that there was « still time to convince them. » Later, in an interview with Le Devoir, the Minister of Labour, Jean Boulet said that « Fear of the coronavirus will not be enough to justify a refusal to work when the Quebec economy reopens. Return will be mandatory for employees unless they mention a specific situation already addressed by the law or their collective agreements. »

2. …but safety protocols will.

Fitzgibbon then referenced the handy workplace safety standards that CNESST had a hand in creating. My partner, who happens to be in construction, has looked over these standards, and just yesterday posted on CNESST’s wall asking about their source of information for the following guidelines:

« It is not recommended for a construction worker to wear specific personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from COVID-19 when the physical distance of 2 meters is respected […] If the physical distance cannot be respected for more than 15 minutes without a physical barrier, measures must be taken to protect workers (see the section on personal protective equipment). « 

I mean, forget the fact that keeping a distance in construction is already a joke. 15 minutes!! His question was erased and no response was given. There is zero transparency here (the biggest trouble of all), and loathsome/lazy/uneducated safety culture.

3. Our government is misguided & misinformed

Meanwhile, Quebec continues to compare our province to Sweden even though Sweden is an outlier with a totally different setup and far fewer cases–and their approach has and is still taking a major toll (a controversial one at that). Plus, other places that have tried this approach have failed even more miserably. AND, Quebec continues to comfort us with the hope of ample hospital beds (even though the only reason these beds are free is because other important elective surgeries have been cancelled). AND they have failed to outline how they will deal with contact tracing/amping up testing, AND their « gradual » approach involves jam-packing the opening of 3 sectors into a single month, etc., etc.

We need to try and stop this from happening. »

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