COVID-19: What rights does Quebec have over health measures?

Quebec is governed by “by decree, by simple decree” to fight the pandemic, explains Stephane Pollack, a professor at UdeM Law School.

Under the Public Health Act, Quebec declared on March 13 a “state of health emergency” that is renewed every 10 days. This law, among other things, authorizes the government to “order the compulsory vaccination of the entire population,” but also “to order any other measure necessary to protect the health of the population.” Under this latter formulation, the government mandates the health passport, for example.

This legal grip is not an absolute mandate, this is the nuance of a lawyer. Several points of law define this exceptional power, notably the Charters of Canada and Quebec.

Are freedom rights guaranteed by the Constitution violated? “Maybe,” the common-law specialist answers cautiously. However, the Supreme Court has already ruled that there is no absolute right. “A violation can be justified in a free and democratic society,” says Stefan Pollack, provided the goal is “urgent and real.” If the decrees respond with “a real cause, a justified and justified objective”, the government can do whatever it wants to control the epidemic.

The real legal challenge to sanitary measures could be based, for example, on the potential list of places where one can apply for a sanitary passport.

“When you go to the grocery store, it will be more difficult to take the test [constitutionnel] From going to the theater and cinema, where the entertainment is,” Stefan Pollack points out.

So the courts may bring the government back into some of its regulations. The curfew that was extended to the homeless, and then overturned by the courts, is a good example of this. The goal was justified, but the means went too far.”

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Who has the power?

The specialist notes that the longer the epidemic continues and its severity decreases, the more the legitimacy of the emergency will diminish. In the early days of the epidemic, it was unreasonable to gather all the deputies in the same room. But parliamentarians “resumed their work for a year”.

Therefore, voices are rising, particularly parliamentarians, for Quebec to change the legal basis for managing the pandemic. The law allows declaring a state of emergency for a period of 30 days instead of 10, provided that “approval, approval, approval” is obtained from the National Assembly, according to the professor.

«[Le gouvernement] Pollack guarantees, but it will provide a forum, perhaps to ask more questions, to go and give seriousness to the questions.”

“It is not a government that has democratic legitimacy in Quebec, Canada, or any province.” […] The democratic institution in Quebec is the National Assembly. He defends this institution that is being bypassed “for the time being.”

Some lawyers have already started with legal challenges.

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