Vaccine passports, mandatory vaccinations 'common sense,' say P.E.I. Liberals

·3 min read
People may choose not to get vaccinated, but they don't have the right to endanger others, says Sonny Gallant. (CBC  - image credit)
People may choose not to get vaccinated, but they don't have the right to endanger others, says Sonny Gallant. (CBC - image credit)

The P.E.I. Liberal Party is calling on the province's Progressive Conservative government to implement a vaccine passport on P.E.I., require that all provincial public servants be vaccinated and reinstate a mask mandate for indoor public spaces.

In a news release issued Wednesday morning, the Liberals called these "common sense" measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

"As a caucus, we believe that the vast majority must take steps to protect our Island — and most particularly, children who are not eligible to receive a vaccine," Liberal interim leader Sonny Gallant said in the release.

"Certain individuals may 'choose' to remain unvaccinated. Fine," Gallant said in the release. "But this should not give the right to the unvaccinated the choice to endanger the overwhelming number of Islanders who respect public health and safety."

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

On Sunday, Prince Edward Island announced its first school outbreak of COVID-19. Since then, new positive test results have been added each day.

Three new cases were announced Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases on the Island up to 22. Most of those cases are among schoolchildren, with cases reported among students at three different schools so far. On Sunday, the province announced it was temporarily shutting down schools in the Charlottetown area.

The Green Party has been calling for mandatory vaccinations for school staff and frontline health-care workers.

90 per cent staff vaccination rate 'not high enough'

The Public Schools Branch conducted an anonymous survey asking staff to submit their vaccination status.

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison reported Monday that the overall vaccination rate among school staff was 90 per cent, with the rates at individual schools ranging from 71 to 100 per cent.

"It is not 100 per cent and it is not high enough for me to be comfortable," Morrison said.

She said next steps are being discussed with education officials, which could include a requirement for staff to be fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing. A similar plan was announced by New Brunswick in August.

CBC News has asked for a school-by-school breakdown of the survey but has not received that information.

Vaccine passport on the way, premier has said

On Sept. 7 Premier Dennis King said P.E.I. would likely follow the lead of other provinces and implement a vaccine passport system, saying more information would be released in the coming days.

P.E.I. was one of the last provinces in the country to implement a mask mandate, and on July 9 became the first province in Atlantic Canada to drop its mask mandate for indoor public spaces, with the premier making the announcement less than two hours before the change came into effect.

On Aug. 23, the province released its back-to-school plan, recommending but not requiring masks be used in schools. But within a week the plan was revised to make masks mandatory on school buses, in corridors between classes and for staff in kindergarten to Grade 6 classes when physical distancing isn't possible.

As a result of COVID outbreaks in schools, the province announced further masking requirements for students and school staff, but there have been no changes made regarding masking for the general public outside schools.

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