Dr. Horacio Arruda was very calm about his handling of the pandemic on Thursday, during a first public appearance since leaving his post as national director of public health.
"It's going very well," assured the colorful medical specialist made famous by the pandemic. Now responsible for the public health prevention component, he took part in a press conference on the new government health prevention policy, which will benefit from an envelope of $120 million over three years.
The national director of public health had resigned on January 10 after being widely criticized for his management of the holiday season. Despite the rise of the Omicron variant, it had initially accepted gatherings of 20 people, as Prime Minister François Legault wanted, before finally reducing that limit for Christmas and then imposing a curfew on New Year's Day. .
Six months later, he says he is indifferent to his decision to leave office in the turmoil. "It's neither a relief nor a disappointment," says the doctor, recalling that his role was much broader than the management of the pandemic.
nothing to regret
Looking back, Dr. Arruda says he has no regrets for his handling of the holiday season. "I think the decisions I made, in consultation with the others, were the ones we thought were the fairest in terms of balance for the Quebec population," he says.
Dr. Arruda recalls the particular context in which Quebec found itself. “Probably in the same context, with the same recommendations, I would still come to the same solutions,” he says.
Quebec “has performed very well” in the context of the pandemic, he assures us, based on the data on excess mortality.
An independent director?
At his side, the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, did not want to commit to creating a post of national director of public health who would be independent of politics, a request repeatedly repeated by the opposition parties. To date, Dr. Arruda's successor, Dr. Luc Boileau, is still an Assistant Deputy Minister, reporting to the Minister.
“For the moment, there will be no changes, because we are still in a daily management [of the pandemic]”, says Mr. Dubé. However, changes will “probably” come in the coming months, he added.