Canada Tasha Kheiriddin: The unvaccinated must be deterred from harming others
Quebec Opposition unconvinced province will impose penalty on unvaccinated
MONTREAL — Quebec's announcement that it would tax unvaccinated residents sparked strong reaction and pushed Canadian premiers to take a position on it, but the province's official Opposition says it's unconvinced the government will go ahead with its threat. Describing Quebec Premier François Legault's plan as a "trial balloon," Liberal health critic Monsef Derraji said Wednesday he thinks the idea will be abandoned the way the province dropped its plan to force health-care workers to get the jab or be suspended without pay.
What to do about the unvaccinated? As Omicron tears through Canadian society, this public health question has become a political wedge issue. The Liberals and Conservatives have chosen sides, ramped up the rhetoric, and polarized the debate, each playing to the base they think is most likely to support their point of view.
With 88 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12, the Liberals figure they’re pretty safe siding with the crowd that favours the jab. Regrettably, they have chosen the strategy of demonization. This week, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos called on provincial governments to consider . Two weeks ago Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the unvaccinated “ .” He dialled that down a bit this week when he said that Canadians are angry at the unvaccinated who take up hospital beds, but his remarks caused a furor that has yet to subside.
John Ivison: Legault's draconian overreach on the unvaccinated is no cure for the malady
Is anyone else getting uncomfortable with draconian government overreach, supposedly for our own good, that tends to produce sub-optimal outcomes? The announcement by Quebec Premier François Legault that his government will impose a “health contribution” on the unvaccinated is merely the latest nibble at freedoms we used to take for granted. It is a terrible public policy and may not even be legal. Admittedly, Legault has not exactly been a stickler about the constitutionality of his legislation of late but this one looks particularly vulnerable to challenge. First, a disclaimer.
This is not accidental. The sad reality is that there is a subset of the unvaccinated who fit Trudeau’s description; since September, for example, some have been using the hashtag “Pureblood” on social media to self-identify as unvaccinated. You don’t have to scroll far to find tagged images peppered with shots of white supremacy gestures or MAGA hats. The Liberals’ dogwhistle is designed to conflate these people with mainstream Conservatives — and turn people off Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s call for “reasonable accommodation.”
O’Toole is asking for “acceptance” of the fact that up to 15 per cent of the population will not get vaccinated. He favours usingto keep unvaccinated workers on the job, as opposed to shutting down to stop the spread of the virus. “In a population that is now largely fully vaccinated, in fact the action and inaction by the Trudeau government is normalizing lockdowns and restrictions as the primary tool to fight the latest COVID-19 variant.”
Quebec's tax on the unvaccinated could worsen inequity, advocates say
OTTAWA — Advocates working with Black and Indigenous communities say a proposal to make unvaccinated adults pay a financial penalty risks further entrenching inequities in Canada's pandemic response, and adding another burden to those who are marginalized. Quebec Premier François Legault announced Tuesday the province is working on a health-care "contribution" that would be charged to all adults who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19. TheQuebec Premier François Legault announced Tuesday the province is working on a health-care "contribution" that would be charged to all adults who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
But this approach is also wrong. First, it relies on unreliable technology. Rapid tests are not good at detecting Omicron infections, particularly in the early stage when a person is infectious but shows no symptoms. Second, it sends a double message. On the one hand, the Tories encourage people to “get vaccinated.” On the other, they make allowances for those who eschew the jab.
It’s like saying “wear your seatbelt, but if you don’t, that’s OK.” Well guess what — it’s not. If you get in an accident, it will cost up toto treat you in hospital than if you were buckled up. Sound familiar?
The reality is that we restrict plenty of behaviours where we judge the harm to others, including economic harm, outweighs the limits to individual liberty. We don’t allow people to smoke in workplaces or public buildings. We forbid drinking and driving. And we mandate vaccination for contagious diseases such as measles if children are to attend public school.
Alberta premier says he won't follow Quebec plan to levy fee on COVID-19 unvaccinated
EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta will not be following Quebec's plan to impose a financial penalty on those who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Kenney says data shows the unvaccinated are proving to be a vastly greater burden on the hospital system than the vaccinated, but making them pay extra would not be fair. “If we go down that road, we are completely rubbishing the whole principle of universality of health care, which is why Alberta absolutely will not follow the decision of Quebec,” Kenney said Tuesday night in a Facebook town-hall meeting.
Why? Because otherwise your actions, or inaction, present a real risk of harm to someone else. They can cause quantifiable loss, in the form of sickness, suffering, even death (yes, last year 200,000 people worldwide, mostly children under five).
People don’t live in a vacuum. A liberal would cite Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, which called for government by popular consent; a conservative would point to Edmund Burke, who rightly observed, “Men are never in a state of total independence of each other.” In other words, there is no freedom without responsibility, no liberty without duty.
When it comes to vaccination, we should protect those who understand this truth from those who disdain it. Vaccine passports, restrictions on interaction and withdrawal of privileges are preferable to calling people names, forcing them to get the shot, or conversely accommodating a choice that puts others in harm’s way. Obliging those who opt out of vaccination to pay a penalty, such as theis suggesting, is also a possibility. Such measures are not about cajoling or compelling, though if they do result in more vaccinations, that’s a good thing. They are meant to protect all of us who just want to move on from this once-in-a-century public emergency and get back to living our lives.
Cross-border vaccine mandate will further disrupt supply chains, say truckers .
Reese Evans said a looming cross-border vaccine mandate is costing his trucking company up to 20 per cent of its drivers. That’s a time when worker shortages have already “cobwebbed” about a quarter of the Lethbridge-area hauler’s fleet that specializes in hauling raw materials between the U.S. and Canada. “There are some major, major repercussions about to happen from this,” said Evans. Starting Saturday , Canada will require all truckers entering from the U.S. to be fully vaccinated or be required to enter a 14-day quarantine. The mandate is the first policy measure taken since the pandemic began that could limit cross-border trucking traffic.