Tasha Kheiriddin: The unvaccinated must be deterred from harming others
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 fully vaccinated , 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 forced vaccination .
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. © Provided by The Canadian Press
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.
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.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault had announced earlier in the day that he plans to make unvaccinated adult residents pay a "significant" financial penalty, given that they are occupying a disproportionate number of beds in hospitals.
Kenney conceded the unvaccinated are taking up far more hospital and intensive care beds, which has led to a domino effect of cancelled surgeries as health workers are reassigned to deal with the pandemic.
But he said levying a fee would be akin to making a smoker pay more for lung cancer treatment or charging a high-risk skier for being injured and airlifted out of the backcountry.
“There is a larger and deeper principle here, which is we have a universal health-care system,” the premier said.
COVID-19: Ontario reports 46 new deaths, hospitalizations rising; 585 new cases in Ottawa
There were 46 new COVID-19 deaths in the province on Tuesday, Public Health Ontario reported Wednesday morning. This is a significant jump from the 21 deaths reported on Tuesday. Of the new deaths, 15 were LTC residents. The province reported 9,783 new cases Wednesday. However, as of Dec. 31, Ontario restricted access to PCR tests to high-risk individuals who were symptomatic and/or are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, front-line workers, residents in high-risk settings and other vulnerable populations. As a result, the true number of infections is higher than the daily new cases reported.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, how old you are, what your medical condition is, how wealthy you are, or what life choices you’ve made. You are guaranteed access to our health-care system, free of cost, for medically necessary services.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in Ottawa, said he wants to see more details before passing judgment on Quebec's plan, but added the province has given assurances that it won’t violate the Canada Health Act.
Alberta, as with other jurisdictions worldwide, is fighting a rapid, spiralling rise in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Kenney’s United Conservative government sharply slashed attendance at public events before Christmas and vaccine passports are still necessary to get into non-essential businesses, including bars and restaurants.
Students from kindergarten to Grade 12 were sent back to class this week after Kenney promised extra masks and millions more rapid-tests for schools.
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.
Last week, he said a million tests had arrived and three million more would be arriving each week after that for a total of 10 million from a private supplier. That's on top of four million from the federal government.
However, Health Minister Jason Copping said Wednesday only 500,000 of the promised federal tests have arrived and that the balance of the 10 million from private suppliers is tied up in delays and global supply chain bottlenecks.
"We’re working to confirm deliveries by the day, including 4.8 million tests that we’ve directly procured that we hope to receive this week, which will go to schools and AHS (for health care workers)," Copping wrote on Twitter.
"We’ll update Albertans as more information becomes available."
The Opposition NDP has urged the government to publish projections on how bad the Omicron surge is expected to be and to supply better masks and high-efficiency air filters for schools.
There are more than 61,000 reported active COVID-19 cases in the province, but Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, has said reduced testing capacity means the true number of infections is likely to be 10 times higher.
Quebec to lift COVID-19 curfew Monday, extend vaccine passport to big box retail
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault says the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Quebec appears to have peaked, allowing him to lift the curfew on Monday that he imposed to protect hospitals from a record surge in infections. Health experts project that COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which were at an unprecedented 2,994 on Thursday, should peak in the coming days, Legault told reporters in Montreal. Legault introduced the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on Dec. 31 — in time to ban people from the streets on New Year's Eve. He had imposed a curfew earlier in 2021 for almost five months, between January and May.
She said this week that the province is bracing for a “significant impact” on health care.
There are 748 people in hospital with COVID-19,including82 in critical care.
Previous waves of the pandemic have already led to thousands of non-urgent surgeries being cancelled as staff are redeployed. Copping has said the province doesn't expect to catch up until the middle of this year.
Neurologist Dr. Mary Lou Myles, joining the NDP at a news conference Wednesday, said staff reassignments have hurt multiple sclerosis patients.
Myles said early intervention and diagnosis is critical for MS patients, but a consultation with a neurologist that should take — and has previously taken — weeks or months is now taking a year.
Earlier diagnosis means earlier treatment and a better chance to avoid damage to the central nervous system and subsequent debilitating disabilities, she said.
“In the MS clinic itself, the redeployment of specialized nurses has had an impact,” said Myles.
“One of the nurses has been redeployed for almost a year. Other redeployments have been quite sudden and unpredictable, leading to kind of a little bit of chaos.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2022.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Rex Murphy: Alberta needs to learn to say 'no' to the Trudeau Liberals .
If a national government determines that as its preferred policy it will shut down the central industry of a particular province, and therefore inevitably the various industries and jobs related to the central one, does it not have a duty to engage in the most serious and detailed negotiations with that province? For example, were the federal government to decide to shut down Quebec’s aerospace industry, would this not inevitably involve detailed and sensitive negotiations with the government of Quebec? Or were it to determine to transition Ontario’s auto industry, so primary a contributor to Canada’s carbon emissions, to renewables-based personal transportation