Ford declines Opposition call to review PC caucus medical exemptions

·2 min read

TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford says he won't get involved in people's personal medical records.

He made the comments in question period Wednesday, responding to the NDP urging that the premier review the two medical exemptions from COVID-19 vaccines among his caucus members.

Ontario's chief medical officer of health has said the rate of legitimate medical exemptions should be about 1-5 in 100,000 people. In Ford's Progressive Conservative caucus of 70, there are two people with medical exemptions.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has called that "statistically curious."

Ford announced that everyone in his caucus had to be vaccinated, but both Lindsey Park, who represents Durham, and Christina Mitas, who represents Scarborough Centre, presented medical exemptions.

Park remains in caucus but was stripped of her role as parliamentary assistant to the attorney general because until as recently as Friday she misrepresented her vaccination status to her party.

NDP deputy leader Sara Singh asked in question period if Ford would review those exemptions, as they are supposed to be "exceptionally rare."

"We were very transparent on the people who had a medical exemption," Ford replied. "We don’t get involved in people’s personal medical records."

Liberal house leader John Fraser said there is a lot of misinformation about vaccines and elected representatives have to help build trust.

"As public officials we have to be fully transparent," he said. "What Lindsey Park did was erode that trust and the premier should be asking her to be forthcoming. It's that simple. We're held to a different standard and I think that's a reasonable expectation."

Rick Nicholls, who represents Chatham-Kent-Leamington, was ousted from caucus after he refused to get vaccinated.

Ontario's official guidance on medical exemptions says there are "very few actual contraindications" to the vaccines. People who have a severe allergy to a component of the vaccine, experienced "serious adverse events" following a first dose, or have medical conditions that may affect their response to immunization should be referred to a specialist such an allergist, the guidance says.

"In many instances, safe administration of subsequent doses of COVID-19 vaccine is possible under the management of an allergist/immunologist," the document says.

"True medical exemptions are expected to be infrequent and should be supported by expert consultation."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2021.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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