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Quebec to end mask requirement May 14, citing ‘better and better’ COVID-19 trend



MONTREAL — Quebec’s top public health official said Wednesday the peak of the pandemic’s sixth wave has clearly passed and the province is ready to end its mask mandate for indoor public spaces on May 14.

“All the indicators are down, be it the number of cases, the number of health-care employees who are positive (for COVID-19), the number of hospitalizations,” interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau told reporters in Quebec City. “The whole portrait is getting better and better.”

Boileau said masking will remain mandatory on public transportation and in health-care facilities. It will also be recommended in seniors residences and other facilities that may be home to vulnerable people.

“The virus is not leaving us on the 14th,” Boileau cautioned. “It will continue to be there.”


He said it’s possible the decline in the number of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations will slow once the mask mandate is lifted, but he doesn’t expect it to lead to a rise in new cases.

Roxane Borgès Da Silva, a public health professor at the Université de Montréal, said there will be more COVID-19 transmission in the province once the mask mandate is lifted.

“For sure, the virus will circulate more,” she said in an interview Wednesday. She said she hopes that will only mean it takes longer for the current wave to subside, but it is possible the number of new cases will rise.

Quebec will be the last province in Canada to lift its masking requirement. Prince Edward Island, the only other province with a mask mandate for public areas, plans to lift the health order effective Friday.

Boileau said it’s unlikely the mandate will be brought back, even though a seventh wave of COVID-19 is expected this fall. But he admits that could change. “We are not expecting to reintroduce any obligations for the wearing of the mask, or any other measures, but we do not know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Dr. Catherine Hankins, a public health professor at McGill University, said that with warmer weather on the way, it’s good timing for Quebec to lift its mask mandate.

“We are definitely on the downward slope of the sixth wave,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next, but it looks like we have a bit of a reprieve for a few months, hopefully.”

However, she said it will be important to watch if cases of other respiratory infections, such as influenza, start to rise when the mandate is lifted.

Quebec reported 30 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus Wednesday and a 19-patient drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations, for a total of 2,176 patients in hospital with the disease.

The mask announcement came the same day that Quebec’s statistics institute reported that the province’s life expectancy rose to 83 years in 2021, after a “significant decrease” in 2020 attributed to COVID-19. Life expectancy for Quebecers hit 82.9 years in 2019 before dropping to 82.3 in 2020.

The provincial statistics agency said excess mortality in the province was 4.5 per cent between the beginning of the pandemic and March 12, 2022.

That translates to 6,400 more deaths than would normally have been expected during that period, well below the more than 15,000 COVID-19 deaths that the province has reported. Boileau has said at least some of those deaths were people who had the disease when they died but for whom it was not their primary cause of death.

Premier François Legault told reporters at the province’s legislature that the data shows that Quebec’s efforts have paid off.

“What this says is that the measures that we put in place over the past two years have had results,” he said. “Of course, one death is one death too many, but thanks to the measures, thanks to masks, thanks to all the efforts we made on vaccination, we find that Quebec has had fewer deaths than the rest of Canada, than the United States, than the rest of the world.”

Boileau, however, said the 6,400 figure almost surely under-represents the true COVID-19 death toll. He said part of the reason excess deaths were lower than the number of official COVID-19 deaths may be that other diseases, including influenza, were less present in the province during the pandemic.

The statistics agency said Quebec’s excess mortality was lower than the 6.2 per cent observed in the rest of Canada and well below the 18 per cent seen the United States.

Several European countries, including France, Spain and the United Kingdom, had higher excess mortality rates than Canada, while New Zealand and Australia saw mortality drop below expected levels during the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2022.


Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press


The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life




Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.

That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.

What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?

Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.

Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.


Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations

As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.

Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:

  1. Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
  2. Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
  3. Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.

Determining a Fair Payment Plan

Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.

Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.

Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers

When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:

  • Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
  • Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
  • Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
  • Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.


Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.

Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.

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Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home



THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.

The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.

No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.

Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.




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Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister



Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.

Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.

“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”


Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.

“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.

LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.

“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.

The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.

LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.

On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.

“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.

“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.

She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.

Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.

LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.

“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.

–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News



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