State of health emergency: the Bar calls for a “clear” transition and “respect” for democracy

Me Catherine Claveau.  Photo: Saint-Paul law firm website

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Me Catherine Claveau. Photo: Saint-Paul law firm website

The Barreau du Québec has submitted its position on the transition to a return to normal life, after two years in a state of health emergency due to COVID-19.

“The time is not yet for final assessments and findings, but nearly two years have passed since the decree triggering the state of health emergency. A constructive reflection is essential today, in order to determine what will be the continuation of the things with a view to a return to a more normal life in all confidence and serenity”, recalls Catherine Claveauthe president of Quebec.

Review sanitary measures

The Bar is asking for a review of the maintenance of the health measures in force given that the health measures have been renewed for two years and that the population is running out.

Indeed, the government will have to provide clear justifications for maintaining a few “exceptional rules”, maintained through the deconfinement plan, including those governing the wearing of masks and the bonuses paid to nurses as mentioned by the Minister of Health. .

An adequate legal framework

The Law Society believes that the powers of government in the context of a transition should be found in the Public Health Act.

In March 2020, the government declared a state of health emergency but the Act does not provide for how the powers must be exercised during a period of transition to a return to normal life.

The government intends to table a bill in mid-March aimed at maintaining certain exceptional measures and lifting the state of health emergency. This legislative intention raises several questions.

Revision of the Public Health Act

According to the Public Health Law, more than 120 decrees and 185 ministerial orders have been adopted since March 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Bar questions this power, which is neither subject to a time limit nor to a mechanism for consulting the National Assembly, which is mandatory after a certain period of time.

“After two years, are we still in a hurry? The Bar believes that a debate must take place on this subject, ”asks the chairman.

The Barreau believes that several other avenues should be considered to allow the government, in times of pandemic, to exercise its powers to protect the health of the population.

To read the full statement from the Barreau du Québec, click here.

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