SNOBELEN: Time to stop vilifying the unvaccinated


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Well, that was quite a week. One rumour was put to bed while another was confirmed.

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The frequently locked-up people of Ontario were sure the successful Take Our Kids To Work day would be changed. It seemed more appropriate to have Take Our Kids To School day and allow high school students an opportunity to glimpse at a classroom, perhaps with a cardboard cutout of a teacher.

But it seems, over the grumbling of teacher unions, Ontario schools are now safe(ish). Or at least as safe as a grocery store. No word on whether any members of the government have suffered from policy whiplash.

The odder, now confirmed rumour is the implementation of a health tax in that bastion of personal freedom, Quebec. Taxing health care is, of course, illegal in the rest of Canada. But rights and freedoms are little more than speed bumps in Quebec.

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The idea is to “substantially” tax the unvaccinated. You know, those Neanderthals who refuse to take a jab and are therefore shoved to the grimy end of society inhabited by smokers, dippers and people who listen to accordion music.

The rationale here is a little thin. Non-vaccinated people are much more likely to end up in hospital (some might think that is punishment enough for declining a vaccine) and therefore place a greater burden on health care than their vaccinated brethren.

That might be true, but the logic gets thin on isolating the cost of treating a single virus. There are now vaccines for pneumonia; are the unvaccinated about to be taxed? How about that flu vaccine that 70% of Canadians don’t bother to get? Influenzas land people in the hospital, presumably at some cost to the taxpayer.

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And then there are the lifestyle choices that have an impact on health care. One wonders when Premier Francois Legault will undergo a lifestyle assessment and be charged the appropriate tax for his diet and workout choices? Undoubtedly Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos will undergo a similar assessment and pay the appropriate tax for whatever risky behaviour he participates in (skiing, golf on cool mornings, dancing on slick floors).

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I am bracing for a tax on those of us who persist in starting two-year-old colts (who are known to be a tad snotty). That, my friends, is a clear risk to the health-care system.

If the health-tax efficacy (and legality) is suspect, the politics are crystal clear. The vast majority of people are vaccinated, making the unvaccinated a delicious target for vilification.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has mastered politicizing this virus. Vilifying the unvaccinated is morally abhorrent but politically expedient. Trudeau and Legault are following the time-honoured path of fixing the blame instead of the problem.

Blame the unvaccinated for health-care failures. Heck, they are an unseemly lot who probably drink cheap beer. That’s a whole lot easier than fixing a health system that has consistently let down Canadians during the long course of this pandemic.

If European estimates are to be believed, about half of Canadians will get COVID in the near term. At some point most of us will get some form of the virus. Those of us who are vaccinated will do better than those who are not.

It might be a good time to heed the wise words of Helen Keller: “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”

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