At this point in the pandemic, with widespread new restrictions and postponed surgeries for tens of thousands, Canadians are “angry” with those in this country who still have not rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.
“People are seeing cancer treatments and elective surgeries put off because beds are filled with people who chose not to get vaccinated; they’re frustrated. When people see that were in lockdowns, or serious public health restrictions right now because [of] the risk posed to all of us by unvaccinated people, people get angry,” the prime minister said.
Across the country over the last few weeks, new case counts have hit record highs largely due to the rapidly spreading and more transmissible Omicron variant, prompting a new wave of restrictions aimed at easing the strain on overburdened health-care sectors and testing facilities.
For months politicians and public health officials have been imploring Canadians to get vaccinated, running campaigns meant to educate, encourage, and dispel vaccine misinformation, and implementing proof of vaccination systems that restrict access to certain spaces and activities.
According to the latest federal figures, more than 87 per cent of Canadians ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated. However, millions of Canadians have chosen to not receive a single COVID-19 dose.
Asked Wednesday whether it’s time for a different approach, after French President Emmanuel Macron declared he wanted to “piss off” unvaccinated people, Trudeau said he like many Canadians is frustrated by anti-vaxxers and that it’s not too late for them to “do the right thing.”
“I can tell you, that front-line health worker who is giving you your first dose of the vaccine, even now in January 2022, will be immensely pleased to be able to give you that first dose of vaccine even today, because theyd much rather be giving you an injection of vaccine than intubating you in an ICU,” Trudeau said.
In a later Facebook live stream, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also encouraged Canadians to get vaccinated, advising those who may still have questions to ask them. Though he also said that he won’t “divide people” over the issue.
“I want to make sure people get the vaccines because its the best tool. And if were always just going into lockdown, youre going to see people use that as an excuse to not get boosted, or not to get vaccinated,” he said. “We can accommodate a small number that may not be vaccinated, we can use the other tools as well to try and find balance in life.”
The Conservatives are the only major federal party that won’t confirm how many of their MPs are vaccinated. All Liberal, Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Green MPs are vaccinated.