An Open Letter Slams Quebec's Curfew & Says It Could Have Grim Consequences

"Will the government continue to put Quebec in a box apart from the rest of Canada every winter by banning the free movement of people in the evening and at night?"

Senior Editor
An Open Letter Slams Quebec's Curfew & Says It Could Have Grim Consequences

Quebec's second curfew could have grim consequences, according to a group of 13 professors, researchers and professionals. In an open letter published on December 30, 2021, the group takes aim at the Quebec government's decision to impose new restrictions on nighttime travel.

The 13 individuals hold positions at McGill, UQAM, Université de Montréal, New York University (NYU), Université Saint-Paul, the Association québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues (AQPSUD), the Association des juristes progressistes (AJP) and the Ligue des droits et libertés.

They say they decided to speak out against the new curfew in light of the "difficult, even traumatic" effects of the first one, which lasted over four months, from January to May 2021.

"It seems that after 21 months of health crisis, the Legault government is still caught in its inability to plan, foresee, prevent, mitigate," the letter reads.

While the letter authors agree that the rapid spread of infections calls for "greater precautions in social life," they charge that the curfew only serves to threaten Quebecers' health while giving the impression that the government is taking action to respond to the public health threat.

They suggest that instead, the imposition of a curfew "erodes" the public's "support for effective health measures."

The authors further question the effectiveness of a curfew; 93% of Omicron wave outbreaks as of December 15, they say, occurred in schools, daycares and workplaces.

"Since the Legault government has done almost nothing to address ventilation and general air quality in these settings," they wrote, "it is not surprising that they have become hotbeds for the spread of the airborne virus as the fall of 2021 unfolds."

The comments echo those of opposition leader Dominique Anglade, whose office published her own response shortly after Premier François Legault announced the new curfew.

Saying she was "flabbergasted" by the decision, Anglade criticized the Legault government for not working to expand rapid test availability and acting more quickly to install new air filtration systems in the province's schools.

"The measures announced by François Legault are an admission of failure in his management of the pandemic and proof that he has lost control," Anglade concluded.

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Premier François Legault recently announced that unvaccinated Quebecers are going to be charged a "significant" fee if they refuse to get at least their first dose in the next few weeks unless they have a medical reason not to.

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Quebec's controversial Bill 21, also known as Quebec's secularism law, prohibits public service workers — from police officers to teachers — from wearing hijabs, kippahs, crosses, turbans and other forms of religious symbols while at work. In fact, an elementary school teacher in Chelsea was removed from her position last month for wearing a hijab.

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On December 30, 2021, François Legault announced a handful of restrictions across Quebec, which included the closure of indoor dining and places of worship, and the postponement of a return to in-person learning at schools in the new year. In a January 13 Facebook post, Legault confirmed elementary and high school students would be returning to class as of Monday, January 17. But what about university students?

Montreal CEGEPs and universities also reverted to remote learning, however, things are looking a little different for students returning to in-person classes at post-secondary institutions. Premier Legault stated in a January 12 post that while universities could reopen their doors as of the 17th, they are being given extra leeway to determine the exact date in which in-person classes could resume.

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