Pleas to follow public health rules, from Quebecers who know what happens when you don't

These Quebec women know first-hand what can happen when those around you catch the disease. They're pleading with others to obey public-health restrictions over the holidays.

Premier, opposition leaders urge Quebecers to be safe over holidays as health-care system is on the brink

Wendy Paquette's mother died from COVID-19 at the long-term care facility in Montreal's Lasalle Hospital. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

"There are lives at stake here and people that you love." 

That's what Wendy Paquette wants Quebecers to understand, following Premier François Legault's rare joint news conference alongside opposition leaders on Tuesday.

The premier and his colleagues formed a united front to urge Quebecers to follow restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paquette knows the devastation of the virus firsthand. Her mother passed away in April after contracting COVID-19 at the long-term care facility at Montreal's LaSalle Hospital.

"I would like to say to people who are not taking the restrictions seriously, you have a responsibility to us," she said. "The heroes of today are the ones who are taking the precautions."

Barbara and her daughter Wendy Paquette in 2018 in the LaSalle Hospital residence. (Submitted by Wendy Paquette)

Paquette says what irks her the most is that while rules are being skirted, it's the province's most vulnerable who are paying the price. People like her mother.

"I understand that [the lockdown is] a big sacrifice, but you have to understand why you're making that. And I don't think they're connecting with that," she said. "I think they're just seeing how it's impacting themselves."

'I'm still scared'

In his comments on Tuesday, Legault suggested the government can only do so much to ensure people are following the rules that were put in place over the holidays.  

"I think that we've decided to close businesses, schools, but there's a place where we don't control the situation which is in houses," he said.

Sylvie Morin is adding her voice to the chorus of pleas for civil obedience.

A nurse for 36 years, 27 of which were spent at CHSLD de Sainte-Dorothée, Morin postponed her retirement until September to deal with the crisis there.

The long-term care facility in Laval is among the ones hardest hit by this pandemic. More than 100 residents have died of COVID-19, and nearly 200 of the facility's employees have been infected.

A later investigation into Sainte-Dorothée concluded that staffing shortages, a lack of protective equipment and poor managerial oversight contributed to the fatal outbreak.

"It was a nightmare. People were dying and they died so fast," she said. "It was like we were in an alternate world. I couldn't believe how much pain and suffering the patients, employees were going through."

Morin, who lives by herself, is set to spend Christmas alone, unwilling to risk the health of her family.

"I go to the grocery store and I see people not respecting the measures in place, wearing their masks under their nose, not following the arrows. I think I have a bit of PTSD," she said.

"I'm still scared."

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt


Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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