Provinces Should Consider Making COVID-19 Vaccines Mandatory for All: Federal Health Minister

By Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
January 7, 2022Updated: January 7, 2022

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says he believes provinces and territories should consider making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all Canadians at some point.

“What we see now is that our health-care system in Canada is fragile. Our people are tired, and the only way that we know to get through COVID-19, this variant, and any future variant, is through vaccination,” Duclos said at a press conference on Jan. 7.

“PPE, physical distancing, tests, rapid tests, PCR tests, these are all very important tools, but what will make us move through this crisis and end it is vaccination.”

Duclos noted that half of the hospitalizations in Quebec are due to those who are unvaccinated, which creates “a burden on health-care workers, a burden on society—which is very difficult to bear and, for many people, difficult to understand.”

He said he is “signalling [mandatory vaccination for all Canadians] as a conversation,” adding that it’s something he believes the provinces and territories will support, along with the federal government, over the next weeks and months, while stressing that it would be their decision to make.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney rejected the idea of mandatory vaccinations in a social media post shortly after Duclos’s press conference.

“Alberta’s legislature removed the power of mandatory vaccination from the Public Health Act last year and will not revisit that decision, period,” he wrote on Twitter Friday.

“While we strongly encourage those who are eligible to get vaccinated, it is ultimately a personal choice that individuals must make.”

On Thursday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he refuses to criticize people who aren’t vaccinated and believes “reasonable accommodations” should be provided to people like truck drivers to avoid service disruptions and exacerbating supply chain challenges.

“There is going to be as much as 15 percent of the population that is not vaccinated,” he said at a news conference.

“In some cases, you will have to try and find reasonable accommodations between keeping people safe and people not losing their job, losing their home, not being able to provide for their kids. I don’t think that position is irrational when people’s lives are on the line.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam noted that although the Omicron variant is driving a rise in hospital admissions, evidence from ongoing surveillance and international studies has suggested that the risk of hospitalization from the new variant is lower compared to Delta.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.