COVID-19 in Quebec: Province sending teams to private CHSLDs

As the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be peaking in Quebec, staff at some of the province's worst-hit care homes are decrying situations they called horrifying and inhumane.

At least 5 residents at CHSLD Herron died from COVID-19, says Premier François Legault

Lori Morrison and her husband Greg Giroulx hold up a signs outside CHSLD Herron, a long-term care home in Dorval where 31 people have died since March 13. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
  • Quebec has 12,292 confirmed cases of COVID-19. A total of 289 Quebecers have died. There are 778 people in hospital, including 211 in intensive care.
  • 31 people have died at a private CHSLD in Dorval since March 13. Five of those people had COVID-19.
  • Montreal has 5,861 cases of COVID-19 and the region's public health authority says the peak should come within days.
  • Premier Legault says schools will only reopen when public health officials give the OK.

Quebec Premier François Legault says a police investigation is being launched into a Dorval private long-term care home where 31 residents have died, and that the province plans to overhaul its network of long-term care homes after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Five of the 31 CHSLD Herron residents who died had contracted COVID-19, Legault revealed Saturday.

Nurses say residents at CHSLD Herron were left unfed and untended to, with full diapers and soiled beds.

Legault said the home's owner refused to provide the patients' files to the government until last night, which is when the number of deaths came to light.

Health Minister Danielle McCann said the province is sending teams to the the 41 private CHSLDs in Quebec to evaluate how they are handling the pandemic and provide assistance if needed.

There are 150 beds at the long-term care home, where staff have decried situations they called horrifying and inhumane.

The premier said the way seniors are treated in the province is "unacceptable."

Meanwhile, in Quebec's Lower North Shore region, seniors were receiving phone calls asking whether they would like to be transferred out of the region for treatment if they develop serious complications from COVID-19. 

Nurses were making the calls based on a directive issued by the regional health authority, the CISSS de la Côte-Nord. 

Representatives of the CISSS have since stopped making the calls. 

Schools to reopen only once public health approves, Legault says

Legault had said Friday the government is "not excluding the possibility" of reopening schools in some capacity in early May. 

His comments prompted parents and teachers to respond with concern, saying they feared it could lead to a second wave of infections.

But Saturday, he said it was only one of the scenarios the government was looking at.

"We cannot say at this time when we will open the schools. But we have different scenarios, at different dates. And also other scenarios about partial reopening or reopening in certain regions."

He said schools would only reopen once public health approved. 

"I want to be clear — health will always be the first criteria," not the economy, Legault said. 

Heidi Yetman, the head of the Quebec provincial association of teachers and a high school teacher, said Saturday the premier's message is reassuring.

But she wanted to know wants to know more about the scenarios Legault is envisioning.

"By bringing up all these scenarios on the way this could work, it also brings up a whole other set of questions that we're going to have to look into," she said

Festivals cancelled until Aug. 31

The provincial government has ordered all festivals and summer events be cancelled until Aug. 31.

The measure includes all sporting and cultural events, but professional sports are allowed to take place without audiences.

Tennis Canada announced Saturday it would be cancelling the Rogers Cup women's tennis tournament, set to take place in Montreal from Aug. 7 to 16. It said the women's event will return to the city in August 2021.

"This decision was made for the sole purpose of saving human lives," Culture Minister Nathalie Roy told Radio-Canada.

She added that it was also made to respond to the concern of municipalities, which typically issue permits for festivals and major events.

"When promoters plan their festivals, they commit sums of money and the closer we get to the date of the event, the more money is lost if they're cancelled," Roy said. 

Quebec says it's exploring ways to provide support for events and festivals affected by the measure.

With files from Radio-Canada

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.