Health Minister Christian Dubé has tabled a bill to end Quebec’s state of emergency, which was first declared on March 12, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state of emergency, which had been renewed over 100 times by François Legault’s government over the past 24 months, grants the provincial government exceptional powers.
Extraordinary emergency powers include the government being able to override agreements in the health sector, enact exceptional mandates — like the nightly curfew — and award specific contracts.
According to the Journal de Montréal, the Legault government awarded more than $13 billion in contracts since March 2020, without the usual bidding process of contractual agreements that usually take place outside of states of emergency.
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During a Wednesday press conference, Dubé says the past two years have allowed the Quebec government how to “understand and handle crises better.”
Je viens de déposer le projet de loi visant à mettre fin à l’état d’urgence sanitaire. Très heureux d’entamer cette démarche qui va nous permettre d’enfin lever l’urgence sanitaire. https://t.co/lcV3qoDpxW
— Christian Dubé (@cdube_sante) March 16, 2022
According to Dubé, the newly tabled motion, Bill 28, gives the CAQ government some leeway, even once the state of emergency is over. Bill 28 allows some contracts given during the pandemic to be extended for up to five years. The bill also states that measures adopted by the government can remain in place until December 31, 2022.
The bill will also allow any government or ministry organization powers to order all documents necessary “for the protection of public health” related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bill 28 will now be examined in a legislative committee before being passed.
Quebec’s opposition parties say Bill 28 is still an abuse of power, giving the CAQ government exceptional powers until the end of 2022.