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COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know Tuesday

Some regional health boards on the island have spent hundreds of thousands on unvaccinated employees who had to be tested three times a week. Here's what you need to know.

Health boards spent thousands on unvaccinated employees who had to be tested 3 times a week

Since the beginning of April, a ministerial order has forced unvaccinated health care workers to undergo three COVID-19 screening tests per week. (Stéphane Mahé/Reuters)
  • Quebec reported 340 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and four new deaths.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 423,335 confirmed cases and 11,481 people have died.
  • There are 259 people in hospital (no change), including 66 in intensive care (a decrease of three). 
  • The province has administered 13,184,753 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 8,464 in the past 24 hours. 
  • 90 per cent of the eligible population in the province (age 12 and up) has received one dose of vaccine, and 86 per cent has received two doses.

Note: Quebec's Health Ministry does not publish the number of vaccines administered on weekends and public holidays. 

Some regional health boards in Montreal have spent hundreds of thousands on COVID-19 tests for unvaccinated employees, according to Radio-Canada.

Since the beginning of April, a ministerial order has forced unvaccinated healthcare workers to undergo three COVID-19 screening tests per week.

However, when testing isn't possible at their workplace, the employees are paid for their time as they travel to and from testing sites before or after work.

The CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal spent almost $900,000 on remunerating unvaccinated workers for their testing time between April and October, Radio-Canada reports.

The CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal paid approximately $242,000 to unvaccinated employees during the same period.

Meanwhile, the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal told Radio-Canada that employee tests were performed at workplaces during work hours, so no additional time was paid out.

The CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal declined to provide numbers on what it paid.

As of Oct. 16, the government put an end to this practice.

"We have cut the COVID premiums that healthcare workers have been entitled to so far for the unvaccinated, and halted the reimbursement of weekly testing costs," said Marjaurie Côté-Boileau, a spokesperson for the Health Ministry.

As of now, "an unvaccinated employee has to get tested outside of their working day and will not be paid for it," she said.

Deadline may be pushed back again

Premier François Legault says he's open to once again pushing back the deadline for mandatory vaccination among health-care workers.

The Quebec government initially gave health-care staff until Oct. 15 to get adequately vaccinated or else they would be suspended without pay.

That deadline was been pushed back to Nov. 15 because the province feared a staffing crisis. At the time, about 22,000 workers would have no longer been allowed to work.

On Monday, Legault, who was interviewed by several French media outlets, told 98.5 FM there could be a patchwork application of the province's vaccination mandate, with the rule applying to certain sectors or certain regions.

The premier also said it will partly depend on how successful the province is in recruiting nurses.

Mandatory procedural masks in Matapédia schools

Quebec is making wearing procedural masks mandatory in schools and private senior homes in the Matapédia region in the Gaspé Peninsula as the county battles rising COVID-19 cases, primarily in schools and at a local wood mill.

The new measures apply to students in elementary and secondary schools, excluding kindergarten. They will have to wear procedural masks at all times when indoors, as well as in school buses and while attending after-school daycare services. 

Two schools in the region, École Sainte-Ursule and École Caron, are cancelling in-person classes due to outbreaks. As of Monday, Sainte-Ursule had 27 active cases and Caron had 18. In-person attendance will resume next week.

Top COVID-19 stories

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

  • Fever. 
  • New or worsening cough. 
  • Difficulty breathing. 
  • Sudden loss of smell without a stuffy nose.
  • Gastrointestinal issues (such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting).
  • Sore throat
  • Generalized muscle pain.
  • Headache.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite.

If you think you may have COVID-19, the government asks that you call 1‑877‑644‑4545 to schedule an appointment at a screening clinic.  

To reserve an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, you can go on the online portal You can also call 1-877-644-4545.

You can find information on COVID-19 in the province here and information on the situation in Montreal here


With files from Radio-Canada


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