Alberta's new premier Danielle Smith says those who chose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine are the "most discriminated-against group" she has seen in her lifetime.
"The community that faced the most restrictions on their freedoms in the last year were those who made a choice not to be vaccinated," Smith said at her first press conference as premier on Oct. 11.
“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a situation in my lifetime where a person was fired from their job, or not allowed to watch their kids play hockey, or not allowed to go visit a loved one in long-term care or hospital, or not allowed to go get on a plane to either go across the country to see family or even travel across the border.
"They have been the most discriminated-against group that I've ever witnessed in my lifetime."
Smith made the remarks shortly after being sworn in as premier in Edmonton.
During the leadership race, Smith had promised to bring fundamental changes to Alberta Health Services and to strengthen laws to avoid "discrimination" based on medical decisions.
“This has been an extraordinary time in the last year in particular, and I want people to know that I find that unacceptable,” she told reporters. “We are not going to create a segregated society on the basis of a medical choice.”
Similar to other provinces, Alberta brought in a vaccine passport system during the pandemic and closed down businesses and places of worship.
Smith also said she won't be seeking advice from Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw and will instead form a new team of public health advisers.
When asked for further details including whether she is firing Hinshaw, a spokesperson for the premier said details haven't been determined yet, repeating that Smith will be seeking to form a new team of public health advisers.