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Quebec headed in ‘right direction’ but situation remains difficult in long-term care homes: Legault

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec premier calls on opposition parties to pass Bill 61' Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec premier calls on opposition parties to pass Bill 61
Quebec Premier François Legault urged on Thursday that all opposition parties "put partisanship aside" and work with his government to pass Bill 61, which aims to restart the economy, for the benefit of all Quebec residents – Jun 11, 2020

Quebec Premier François Legault says the declining numbers of new cases and deaths related to the novel coronavirus crisis show the province is headed “in the right direction” but the situation remains fragile in long-term care homes.

There are 218 facilities where infections have been reported and more than 1,100 people who live in them have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to Legault.

“The work remains difficult in CHSLDs,” he told reporters in Quebec City on Thursday.

Legault said 400 soldiers from the Canadian Armed Forces remain in embattled long-term care homes and an additional 350 elsewhere in the province. He wants them to stay until at least Sept. 15, when 10,000 new orderlies are expected to staff those facilities.

READ MORE: Quebec unveils measures to help tenants during housing crunch complicated by COVID-19 crisis

Quebec continues to be the province hardest hit by the crisis and leads Canada in cases and deaths.

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The province saw 144 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 53,485. The health crisis has killed 5,105 people after 24 additional fatalities were recorded from the previous day.

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Nearly three months after the pandemic began, the number of hospitalizations continues to decline in the province. There are 871 patients in hospital and 114 of them are in intensive care.

As the numbers begin to drop, Legault said he is focused on reviving Quebec’s economy as lockdown measures continue to be eased.

He announced the government will invest $750 million into the struggling tourism industry as parts of the province reopen.

“What we want is people to travel in Quebec this summer,” he said.

Legault defends Bill 61

Quebec’s premier also took to defending his government’s proposed legislation to stimulate the economy by fast-tracking more than 200 infrastructure projects.

Bill 61, which was tabled last week, has been criticized by opposition parties and the province’s auditor general. There are concerns over whether it would affect reforms prompted by the Charbonneau Commission, the province’s inquiry into the management of public construction contracts in Quebec.

After a wave of criticism, Treasury Board President Christian Dubé introduced changes to his bill on Thursday, including limiting the extension of a sanitary public health emergency.

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Legault, for his part, said the province will accelerate infrastructure projects “without harming our environment or facilitating corruption.”

“It’s time to put partisanship aside and work together to start… to restart our economy for the benefit of all Quebecers,” he said.

— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and the Canadian Press