To disclose or not to disclose? The scientific and the political divided

Dévoiler ou ne pas dévoiler? Le scientifique et le politique divisés

Jacques Boissinot The Pressse canadienne
The divergence of views of the director of public health, Horacio Arruda, and the prime minister, François Legault, were apparent on Monday, when the press point daily.

Marco Bélair-Cirino and

Marie-Michele Sioui

in Quebec city

April 7, 2020

  • Quebec

The national director of public health, Horacio Arruda, will file on Tuesday forecast scenarios on the evolution of the COVID-19, but against his will. He says he is acting at the express request of his “boss ” — the prime minister François Legault, who may be asked to repeat this exercise every week.

Sources at the firm of Legault argue that the government wished to disclose forecasts for a good time, but that ” public health did not want to leave “. In an effort to “give the time” to Quebecers, the government will present projections on the basis of european realities, adapting them to Québec’s demography, according to our information.


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Unlike the ontario government, Quebec refuses to spread its projections on the overall duration of the pandemic. In the morning, one close to the prime minister ruled out the possibility of present projections as dramatic as those of Ontario. The province, headed by Doug Ford suggested Friday that the COVID-19 would have made up to 100,000 dead if no preventive measure had been put in place. Scenarios, “it is no matter what when you’re going too far,” warned a government source. In addition, scientists of the public health did not want to venture to make such assumptions.


To see the video

Quebec has, however, emphasized the importance of disseminating certain information to ensure that all Quebecers be able to “plan their lives accordingly” and to “raise awareness of the impact of measures of distance” on the number of sick or dead apprehended. The raw data will be presented on Tuesday, during a presentation which will be conducted by officials of the public health — the idea was not to make a big media spectacle.

The disagreement

During the press briefing of Monday, the disagreement between the prime minister and the national director of public health was evident. Taking a question on the flight, Horacio Arruda has “passed her” pitch ” and expressed his reservations regarding the public dissemination of scientific predictions on the evolution of the pandemic in Quebec. “It is complicated, scenarios. I can tell you, it rhymes with Horacio, but if I could do without it, I would “, he launched. “No one has the taste of present scenario “, he also said, before comparing the presentation’s projections beyond April 30, at of the astrology. “[There is] a person who wants to play JoJo Savard “, he insisted.

Nobody, except perhaps members of the cabinet of François Legault. In his press briefing daily, the head of government said in English that it was imperative to ” know where things may go in the coming weeks and months, if we want to prepare for the worst-case scenario “.

  Dévoiler ou ne pas dévoiler? Le scientifique et le politique divisés

Just before, Dr. Arruda had ensured that there were no differences of vision (“ clash “) between the two men. “The boss asks, it is the prime minister, then we will give him the right information “, he said. “I oblige my world to make projections, to accept it. So, we’re going to do. Is it that the big boss makes the right decisions ? We just want to give him the good scenario “, he underlined. Its teams work to deliver the “ package of the more interesting “point of view” communication “, he said, saying vacillate between projections about the number of deaths of persons admitted to the intensive care unit or ” curves with the projections in the future “.

Dr. Arruda said Friday that the scenarios were useful to ” plan our masks, our intensive care unit, beds, etc “. Monday, he, however, said the fear of being “cut off the head” if his teams did not set out “the good figure” to the public. He reported feeling trapped between ” the prime minister Legault, scientists, the public and the media “.


The death toll of the COVID-19 in Quebec was still weighed down Monday, from 94 to 121 in 24 hours. The prime minister Legault was comforted by the small increase in the number of hospitalizations, which it regards as encouraging.

At his side, François Legault said that his role was to ” push for [the information] to be there “, and even ” the one that is not easy to give because there is a lot of uncertainty.”

The members of the cabinet of François Legault and representatives from public health met in the middle of the afternoon on Monday to discuss the presentation of scenarios to the public. The meeting lasted for several hours, and continued until evening.

In summary

Training aid

The minister of Labour, Jean Boulet, announced a new program of $ 100 million for companies that stop production, take the opportunity to train their employees. The government will pay the remuneration of the trainer, the purchase of equipment and the salary of the employees up to a maximum of $ 25 per hour. The program is intended to be complementary to the wage subsidies from the federal government. In addition, the minister estimated that about 600,000 jobs have been lost since the beginning of the crisis.

Blouses wanted

The equipment inventory for the health system are slightly improved since last week, after the reception during the weekend of a shipment from Mexico. Quebec has enough gloves for 14 days, of N95 masks for 13 days and surgical masks for 10 days. The blouses, however, are likely to miss it after 6 days, concluded Mr. Legault. The government is considering the possibility of resorting to blouses, washable waiting to get other.

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