NOTICE: If vaccine passports will prevent future lockdowns in Mississauga and Ontario, they’re worth it
Ontario needs vaccination passports and they need them before the Labor Day weekend.
Why? Because the province must absolutely do everything to avoid a new confinement.
Recently, the province of Quebec announced that it will implement its own COVID-19 vaccination passport, a free official document that proves that the holder is fully vaccinated against the new coronavirus.
The passport will allow fully vaccinated residents to travel abroad and, more importantly, to access local services deemed non-essential (gyms, bars, restaurants, galleries, festivals, events, etc.) at times when infections are on the increase.
While vaccine passports are apparently too controversial for the Ontario government to even think about – in fact, Premier Doug Ford recently suggested they would create a “divided society” – they should be obvious to one. just as medical experts are already talking about a fourth wave that could shred the unvaccinated population (which includes those who are not currently eligible to be vaccinated, such as children under 12) in the fall.
There are plenty of reasons to support the creation of vaccine passports, but one of the most pressing reasons, aside from curbing future infections, is to prevent another lockdown (or even partial economic shutdown).
While many would say the phased shutdowns that strangled businesses in Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon, Halton, Hamilton and Toronto for much of the year were worth it and no one “needs” to see a movie , browsing a gallery or eating inside a restaurant, these people can’t claim the closures didn’t hurt.
The pandemic and associated public health measures, which included unprecedented shutdowns for months of large swathes of the economy, have had a profound impact on our financial, emotional and physical health.
Last week a updated provisional dataset from the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database reported that more than 5,500 Canadians aged 0 to 64 died in the first 13 months of the pandemic. However, less than 25% of these deaths have been directly attributed to COVID-19.
This suggests “that excess mortality is, in large part, linked to other factors such as the increase in the number of deaths attributed to causes associated with substance use and abuse, including unintentional poisonings ( accidental) and alcohol-related illnesses and conditions, ”says the Statistics Canada report.
From April to June of last year, about 605 people in Ontario died from unintentional poisonings, a 27% increase from the first three months of the year. In the second half of 2020, 1,155 deaths were attributed to accidental poisonings, an increase of 199% compared to the same period of 2019.
According to StatsCan, deaths from accidental poisoning can include different circumstances such as people using substances recreationally as well as those who mistakenly ingest too many prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
The Ontario Drug Policy Network, based at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, also said Ontario saw a significant increase in the number of opioid-related deaths in 2020.
The impact on business has also been and continues to be profound.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), only 68 percent of small businesses were open as of July 15, with just 33 percent of arts and recreation and 32 percent of hospitality businesses having reopened.
The debate over COVID-related restrictions often boiled down to livelihoods versus lives and while this makes the closures understandable, the situation in Ontario is not what it was in July 2020. With 61% of residents over 12 years who have received two injections. As of July 19, 2021, the idea of a fall or winter shutdown – even regional ones affecting “non-essential” businesses – should terrify anyone who has struggled over the past 16 months and done their part. to protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated.
With so many people vaccinated, another lockdown seems unlikely. That said, many people are concerned that Ontario’s health care capacity is limited.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, recently tweeted that the province must prepare to create safer indoor spaces to offset any potential increase in infections during falls.
“While COVID-19 vaccines work extraordinarily well, there are enough unvaccinated people who could get sick [and] require medical attention, ”Bogoch tweeted.
“Even though we are seeing an overall decline in COVID-related healthcare use due to heavy vaccine use, we cannot ignore the pressure on the healthcare system. Think about the capacity of health care in Canada. patients admitted to intensive care with COVID-related illness. We ended up with 920. That’s in a province of about 14.5 million. It is a problem. ”
While Bogoch tweeted that Ontario could manage any potential increase in cases by making schools, workplaces and other indoor spaces safer, lowering barriers to vaccination, addressing vaccine reluctance with “empathy and data” and battling misinformation, it’s not clear if the province is paying attention.
Given the province’s track record over the past 16 months, it’s hard to believe Ontario’s leaders are working tirelessly to create safer indoor spaces, build health care capacity and improve controls. infections.
For this reason, a vaccine passport that could be used to prevent unvaccinated Ontarians (by choice) from entering restaurants, galleries, cinemas, stadiums, bars, nightclubs, gyms, shopping centers. Fitness and nonessential retail outlets during times of high transmission might work to keep these spaces open.
It might even force some people to talk to their doctor or other trusted professionals about the vaccine and ultimately choose to get it.
To some, the suggestion of a vaccine passport seems woefully dystopian – a criminal invasion of privacy and a sign that the state is ready and willing to force people to disclose “private” medical information to gain privileges and access. to certain services. But the province has already interfered in people’s lives in extraordinary ways and although it did not allow the police to arbitrarily arrest people and ask them why they were not at home, it did shut down entire sectors of the economy for months and threw countless people out of work.
In fact, the province has told you – and continues to tell you – how many people you can have inside your house (that’s 25, by the way). He told you that you can’t eat in a restaurant, exercise in a gym, shop at Homesense (at least in the flesh), drink in a bar, see a play or a movie. in a theater, see a basketball or hockey game in person or travel to Quebec for non-essential purposes.
The province has closed schools for in-person learning on several occasions.
The Ontario government enforced these rules in the name of public health, and the public generally supported the Premier and his cabinet. In fact, a Campaign research study conducted between March 29 and March 31, 2021, found that two-thirds of participants supported restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus.
After months of being told to stay home – and listening to fellow residents shaming people mercilessly for daring to miss the live theater or shopping malls – a vaccine passport seems a remarkably low price to pay for a normal life.
Nor will it be in place forever.
At this point, there is no evidence to suggest that vaccines are unsafe for the vast majority of residents (yes, COVID vaccines can have side effects, but this is true for any vaccine). According to several health experts, COVID-19 vaccines will not change your DNA, cause long-term complications, give you COVID, make you infertile, or kill you.
A vaccine passport that will ban unvaccinated people (again, by choice) from some companies seems extreme, but these are not normal times and after so many people have made incredible sacrifices to protect vulnerable people and our system grossly underfunded healthcare, it’s time to do whatever we can to protect our economy and the people who make it run.
It is time to protect our workers and the institutions they lead that feed us, clothe us, entertain us and enrich us. It’s time to protect our restaurants, fitness facilities, cultural centers and entertainment facilities.
Another shutdown should not be acceptable in the fall and it’s time for the province to make some tough – and possibly unpopular – choices to protect workers, businesses and people who have already suffered enough.