Ontario opposition leaders slam Ford’s vaccine certificate rollout


Published September 1, 2021 at 9:25 pm

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, left, and NDP Leader Andrew Horwath. (file photos)

All three Ontario opposition party leaders say Premier Doug Ford’s proposed COVID-19 vaccine certificate is both too little and too late.

The premier announced Wednesday (Sept. 1) that a proof-of-vaccination system is coming in three weeks, on Sept. 22. It is expected to be another month before Ontarians will have a QR code they can save in a mobile app and have scanned in order to enter certain businesses and events. Three other provinces have similar apps in place.

Ford’s announcement came ahead of the Ontario science table released new modelling forecasting a “substantial” fourth wave of COVID-19. The modelling showed vaccination uptake across the province must get to 85 per cent of the eligible population relatively quickly, and that contacts must also be reduced, in order to prevent the spread of the delta variant.

The modelling shows Ontario could face another lockdown if that does not happen. Vaccine uptake is around 76.4 just a few days ahead of children who are too young to receive a jab returning to school.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca first called for the creation of a vaccine certificate on July 26 — five weeks ago.

“Today’s modelling from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shows that Doug Ford’s strategy of waiting until the very last moment to take action has jeopardized our province’s re-opening,” Del Duca said. “As case counts continue to rise, our intensive care units could exceed wave 3 capacity by October (according to the science table’s modelling), and most schools haven’t even opened yet.

“Had Doug Ford acted on our proposals in July, and not stubbornly refused until September, we wouldn’t be facing another preventable crisis for our hospitals and schools and lockdown for our economy.”

Horwath, whose home riding is in Hamilton Centre, questioned the timeline with the government annoucment and the science table’s new modelling. Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, were initially going to make the announcement on Tuesday (Aug. 31). Instead, the announcement was delayed until Wednesday.

The science table’s modelling was released hours later at 5:27 p.m., without any advisory.

“It is troubling that the day after the chief medical officer (Moore) cancelled a briefing, this modeling is being released so late in the day and after a major government announcement,” Horwath said. “We hope the science table will be available soon to explain further and take questions on this update.

“It’s clear now that Doug Ford must use all of the resources of the provincial government to break down barriers and urgently vaccinate every eligible Ontarian.”

While schools are receiving ventilation upgrades, Horwath is calling for reductions to class sizes in order to meet the science table’s recommendation that people reduce their contacts to 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

“With school about to start, no more time can be wasted,” she said.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner issued his response in a midafternoon tweet, before the science table released its modelling.

“Ford has once again delivered a bare minimum half measure that’s months late,” Schreiner stated.

“Ford’s dithering on the inadequate three paid sick days announced in May and the mandatory vaccines for health care and education workers that really aren’t mandatory have made the pandemic worse.”

Ontario recently extended its mandatory three paid COVID-19 sick days through the end of 2021. Both Del Duca and Horwath emphasized that the program should expand to 10 days.

“Three paid sick days were never going to be enough to keep people safe in the middle of a global pandemic,” Horwath said in a statement sent on Wednesday morning, ahead of Ford’s announcement. “Not only has Ford’s half-measure left a huge gap for workers who need paid time off to get tested for COVID-19 or self-isolate, but it has left an even bigger gap for parents who need to do the same for their kids.”

Those comments echoed recent observations by both both Hamilton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, and her Niagara Region counterpart, acting MOH Dr. Mustafa Hirji. During recent briefings, both have said that people who have yet to get a vaccine might have childcare and/or obligations to multiple employers.

It takes 14 days to build up immunity after receiving a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The side effects are typically mild, but when someone might experience them can be unpredictable.

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