The guardian angels of the State

Les anges gardiens de l’État

Photo: Francis Vachon, The Duty
Marie-Claude Lajoie, secretary-general of the ministry of the Economy

They occupied telephone lines, business support or government communication. In a few days, the pandemic has placed certain employees of the State in the first line. The Duty has collected their stories.

Martin Boucher has spent the last few months in his basement to coordinate government communications on the Web. “It was hours of crazy. For at least 6 weeks, it was 16 hours per day. It is my children who came to bring me food. “

He and his team took care of the site with the basic info on the COVID-19.

Based at the secretariat of the executive council, his position was already strategic in going. But without any measurement with the reality of the pandemic. When the largest peak of visitor traffic, the site received 2 million visits. A normal day, this is about 100 000. We had never seen figures of that order. “

Since march, the section “COVID-19” on the site is increased from one to 80 pages. “We have experienced something for which there is no book. He took quick aim on the instinct, the judgement “, is happy there.

Alexis Guilbert-Sewing is not ready to forget the day he and his colleagues in the ministry of Health has installed an inflatable mattress in the office of the Lucie Opatrny, assistant deputy minister. “The first days, we worked day and night,” he says. Responsible for the whole of the health services front-line to the ministry of Health, Ms. Opatrny was responsible in particular hospitals and clinics.

They were three executive assistants to relay to assist. “The routine was a sturdy,” remembers Alexis Guilbert-Couture. “We raccrochait the phone at 22 h 30 and 23 h and was exhausted. “

Les anges gardiens de l’État

Photo: Francis Vachon, The Duty
Martin Boucher, coordinator of communications of the government
on the Web


We have often heard of guardian angels of the health system, but the State has also had his own. Pandemic requires, the State is found in the foreground.

Barely out of the rush associated with the preparation of the budget, the economist Miary Ny Aina Rakotomaharo is working to find measures that are “simple, easy, fast” to “inject more liquidity [as possible] in the economy,” says the specialist policies to individuals in the ministry of Finance. “We know working with short maturities. But with the pandemic, the pace was even faster “. Especially, the ministry of Finance was required to remain functional, ” adds Maude Amiot-Tremblay, coordinator of the operations of pooled financing. Its management receives advances from the government, to then provide loans to public bodies, among which are the hospitals. “It was only day one, it is functional in teleworking, all the world […] We could not afford to have an interruption of services. “

In the area of fiscal policy, the economist Gabriel Edith-Doyle has had to show more creativity than usual in the production of economic forecasts. The information gathering will be complex, ” we had to make more assumptions and be more judgmental “. “We got a little in the unknown and uncertainty. […] We need to be more self-reliant, go with what you have and doing the best we can “, lance-t-il.

It was only day one, it is functional in teleworking, all the world […] We could not afford to have an interruption of services.

— Maude Amiot-Tremblay

“Most people don’t understand what’s being done in the public service “, note Josée Lepage of the directorate of support services for students at the department of Education. “But any government measure announced is supported by a package of workers below who are doing research, analyses, proposed solutions, recommendations.”

She gives the example of the development of child care services emergency. This is going to be Friday and Monday, but it has to be in place, including registration, communications with school boards, local, protection measures, protocols, etc, ” Behind every ad, it rolls. “

Marie-Claude Lajoie is the secretary general of the ministry of the Economy. It is not about to forget march 23, 2020. The prime minister had announced the closure of the economy with the exception of some firms, ” priority “. Thousands of companies have submitted their documents to become part of the list. On Tuesday, at the end of the day, his team had 2791 folders to scan. “We wanted to process the requests fast enough because we were well aware of the importance that it had for the people. “

From their houses the respective members of his team have divided the folders in telework. Ms. Lajoie, she coordinated the operations of her kitchen from where she left at midnight, an hour.

The staff of the civil Security sped to the national Centre of the government coordination in Quebec city. “It was the nerve centre of information,” explains Adi Jakupovic, one of the coordinators of the team. “We had two teams working on a case where one of the teams was contaminated. Fortunately, this never happened. “

In normal times, Mr. Jakupovic was the secretary of a trade union of employees of the government. However, the public Safety required his services during the crisis because he had worked on other crises, such as Mégantic, forest fires, floods… But it is this crisis that it has found the more intense.


Les anges gardiens de l’État

Photo: Francis Vachon, The Duty
Serge Bouchard, head of the information line on the COVID-19

From 600 to 60 000 calls

As the head of the line 1-877-644-4545 on the COVID-19, Serge Bouchard has lived on the phone that Martin Boucher has lived on the Web. “On Thursday, march 12th, we had almost 600 calls ; the next day, we passed 60,000 calls. “

On the 13th of march, at a press conference, a reporter questioned the PM because the line was no longer available. “I didn’t think my cell phone could receive as many calls at a time. Everyone was calling me at the same time to tell me that it was planted. “Fortunately, someone on the team finds a solution” a little gossée with the pin, if you’ll pardon the expression.” But it helped to “start the machine a few hours” time to find a ” permanent solution “, he says.

At the pace at which things were changing, it was also necessary to constantly update the “interactive voice response” [“If you speak French, press 2 “, for example]. “The people who develop it had to work the night. “

The flood has also given rise to the funny moments. “There are people who called to talk to the Dr Arruda, thank him or give him advice ! There are people who had ideas to heal the world. “The return of the good weather, hundreds of people have called to ask questions… on the winter tires. “For two days, we received calls on it. What saved us is that Mr. Legault has finally announced the reopening of the garages. “

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