'They divide society': 3 Alberta MLAs call for end of vaccine passports
There are renewed calls from some provincial politicians to end Alberta's Restrictions Exemption Program (REP).
On Wednesday, Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie posted a video on Facebook in which he expressed his view that vaccine passports are divisive, calling them the 'epitome of leftist identity politics.'
"Vaccine passports have serious side effects. For one, they divide society, pitting people against each other causing animosity, even amongst the closest of friends and family," said Guthrie. "It is counter to medical privacy, an area that was always, without question, previously protected."
Provincial data shows that the majority of Albertans who are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are vaccinated, a fact Guthrie claimed to discredit immunization.
He made no mention of case-rate-per-100,000-people, a statistic that more accurately represents who is contracting the disease.
"Vaccinated Albertans continue to disproportionately account for new cases and hospitalizations," he said. "It is unnecessary to continue forcing policies that infringe on the rights and freedoms of Albertans with no demonstrable positive outcome."
The province's most recent data shows that unvaccinated Albertans make up just under 30 per cent of COVID-19 positive hospitalizations.
Unvaccinated individuals are much more likely to wind up in ICUs.
Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt and Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland MLA Shane Getson did not post videos, but did publish similar sentiments.
"Let's keep the discussion going, and despite the rhetoric that will come from the numerous administrators, we can come up with a more efficient system that empowers the doctors and nurses to do what they do best," said Getson in a written post.
All three politicians have previously been critical of their government's pandemic health measures.
DATA SHOWS REP HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE
Roughly 74 per cent of Alberta's population has received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
That number was at 61 per cent in September when province's REP went into place.
Guthrie still argues it hasn't been an effective measure.
"In my view, vaccine passports are more about conforming to the norm than they are about health care. Vaccine passports are really a freedom negotiating tool," said Guthrie.
"They're a mechanism to make life so uncomfortable for people that they succumb."
Other municipalities pulled back some health measures this month as cases begin to trend downwards.
"The premier's calculation on whatever his next move is going to be is going to be taking into account the views of MLAs in the party and the party faithful," political scientist Lisa Young told CTV News. "Internal party support is critically important to him. So he might be inclined to nod in the direction of those who have been critical of the government's public health responses."
Kenney has yet to hint at the future of the program.
Many science and health experts warn the impact on hospitals could be huge if the unvaccinated are once again allowed to enter any and all establishments.
"Removing our Restrictions Exemption Program at this point in time, it's going to end up with more people being in hospital," infectious disease physician Dr. Daniel Gregson said.
But some business owners say it may be time to rethink the initiative.
"I believe it's time to put an end to these restrictions on hospitality," Jeff Jamieson with Proof Cocktail Bar said. "If you're willing to pay those consequences yourself, then it's fine by me and it should be fine by everybody."
The Alberta NDP is calling on Premier Jason Kenney to condemn the recent messages from the MLAs and stress the importance of vaccine uptake.
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