Following the announcement B.C. would be introducing ‘vaccine passports’ for people to access concerts, sporting events, and other indoor activities, opposition to the system and to mandatory vaccinations for certain public sector workers has been visible with opponents taking to the streets.
There have been at least four gatherings in the Smithers area in the past two weeks, each of which drew approximately 200 people.
During a rally Sept. 1 at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital, organizer Angela Young told the Interior News it is not about opposition to vaccines, but about choice.
“This is world walkout day, worldwide everybody is walking out at one-o-clock… to support no mandatory vaccinations, to support the employees who are affected by that, their jobs, in support of that, and no mandatory passports,” she said.
While no hospital staff visibly walked out, Young said they had been asked to come out by some Northern Health employees.
The leader of the Telkwa chapter of Vaccine Choice Canada, going by her first name only, Amy, said that while vaccines are not technically mandatory for members of the general public, requiring proof of vaccination to enter public venues and businesses amounts to the same thing.
“Coercion is not consent,” she said.
Young said it is segregation on the basis of health status.
“If you can’t go to a restaurant because you don’t have a vaccine passport, what is that?” she said. “Is that freedom, is that against our rights, or is that segregation of our health. So that automatically is tied to having to get a vaccination.”
While opposition to vaccine passports has been vocal across the province since the end of August, a recent Leger poll indicates overall support for the system is strong.
In B.C., 84 per cent of respondents supported the passports with 63 per cent strongly supporting and 21 per cent somewhat supporting.
Support for passports and other public health measures gets weaker, however, the further from urban areas you travel.
“Sixty-five per cent of people in rural areas support the passport in pubs and bars compared to 76 per cent in urban areas,” the Leger report stated.
Urbanites were also more likely to support vaccine passports for outdoor parties and weddings with 69 per cent in support compared to just over half of people living in rural areas, according to the poll.
“Overall, British Columbians show the most support for vaccine passports at nightclubs, concerts, and sporting events at 76 per cent and the least for restaurant patio dining at 61 per cent,” the poll noted.
The divide is also apparent on the matter of mandatory masks with 81 per cent of people in urban areas supporting the mask mandate for indoor public spaces compared to 70 per cent in rural areas.
The B.C. Vaccine Card system comes into effect Sept. 13, requiring proof of at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in order to enter restaurants, movie theatres, ticketed sporting events, and many other non-essential venues and businesses. As of Oct. 24, proof of two doses will be required.