Curfew: the ethical opinion of Public Health was unfavorable

Curfew: the ethical opinion of Public Health was unfavorable

Former director of public health Horacio Arruda.

In an ethics advisory issued on December 21 and made public Thursday evening, Montreal Public Health opposes the imposition of a curfew. Rather, it recommended the implementation of alternative measures.

“With the information at its disposal concerning the absence of robust efficacy data and the demonstration of collateral impacts, the Montreal DRSP recommends the implementation of alternative measures to the imposition of the curfew based on their effectiveness in controlling transmission and their lesser potential to generate collateral impacts disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable populations”, can we read.

If on December 30, the Ministry of Health and Social Services affirmed that the decision to impose a curfew was based in particular on “an ethical analysis”. We discovered last night that it was an unfavorable opinion from Montreal public health. This is the only existing scientific opinion.

The opinion adds that if the use of the imposition of a provincial curfew were to be considered to control transmission in Quebec, Health recommends that an independent ethics committee be mandated to provide an opinion on the use of the measure “with heavy consequences”.

To draw these conclusions, public health takes into account in particular the lack of robust data on the effectiveness of the curfew, its collateral impacts on vulnerable people such as those experiencing homelessness and the adoption of behaviors that increase the risks. of transmission, such as meeting indoors. 

Notice first redacted

Recall that this two-page ethics notice, requested by Radio-Canada through the Access to Information Act, was first published entirely redacted. 

In its report, Radio-Canada revealed that public health lacked scientific studies to justify the establishment of a curfew in the province.

The story caused a stir at the start of week and the various opposition parties in the National Assembly fired red balls at the government of François Legault. They criticized him in particular for his lack of transparency in the management of the fifth wave.

Asked about the redacted notice at a press conference Thursday morning, the acting director general of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, said that there was no “signal of things that are secret” in the document. . “It is clear that there have been concerns expressed by several people around these measures,” he said.

When a journalist asked him if he was comfortable with the ethics opinion being made public, Dr. Boileau replied that he was “comfortable with being transparent in everything”. “From the moment I took office, it was very transparent. We have absolutely nothing to hide,” he added.

Oppositions are crying foul

Last night, the opposition parties in Quebec reacted to the publication of the famous notice. The leader of the Liberal Party, Dominique Anglade, again criticized François Legault for his lack of transparency.

The Prime Minister “assures that it was a recommendation from public health. Clearly, we did not read the same memo. Redacted or not, the result is the same,” she wrote on Twitter. 

For his part, the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, believes that the CAQ governs into “charlatans”. “The seriousness of what is happening in Ukraine does not allow us to take the full measure of what we are currently learning about the governance of the CAQ. But have no fear, there will be a time and a place to take stock of this governance of charlatans,” he wrote.

The leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec, Éric Duhaime, also reacted on Twitter last night. “The hour is serious, he wrote. François Legault's chief of staff, Martin Koskinen, just the day before yesterday, continued to repeat that “Public Health has recommended a curfew to us”, when we have proof this morning that he is This is a shameless lie.”

According to Mr. Duhaime, François Legault has no choice but to fire his chief of staff. “If he refuses to do so, Mr. Legault simply no longer has the legitimacy to govern Quebec,” he underlines. 

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