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A bold move forward in Peel Region’s vaccination efforts

All residents aged 18 and over in Peel Region are now eligible to book their Covid-19 vaccine. The expanded access in Peel (started on May 6), comes one day after the Divisional Court rejected a case claiming the Ontario government neglected their duty to provide citizens with fair and equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine.

According to a report by the Canadian Press, David Daneshvar of Toronto filed the claim in March. It alleged that Ontario’s Covid-19 vaccination plan discriminated against vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, homebound seniors and people living in hot-spot neighbourhoods and violated his constitutional rights.

Several people may fit that category, including essential workers who cannot work from home. They feel the government’s plan should ensure equitable access to vaccines. Furthermore, individuals who experience challenges with mobility, communication, language barriers or lack internet or phone services are at a greater disadvantage when trying to access vaccines.

While the argument has merit and raises important issues, the court’s decision to not rule on the violation of constitutional rights was based on the grounds it did not have jurisdiction to do so. The Court said “the applicant has not established that the Divisional Court has jurisdiction to grant the broad declaratory relief he seeks”.

Prior to the vaccine roll-out, the Province devised a three-phase plan to vaccinate Ontarians, starting with high-risk populations. It is up to the provincial Public Health Units to implement strategies and administer vaccines to reach citizens in the community.

This case appears to be another failed attempt and holding appropriate parties accountable when vulnerable people slip through the cracks. Others may argue the unreliable supply of vaccines further complicate matters when expanding vaccination efforts to all members of society.

For instance, Peel Region is one of Ontario’s hardest-hit communities by Covid-19. At nearly 10% of the provincial population, roughly 20% of all Covid-19 cases originate in Peel Region. It is also home to a large number of essential workers who do not have the privilege to work from home.

“Peel Region has been a hot spot for a very long time”, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, said during her weekly press conference. As of April 30, the Region’s weekly test positivity was 18.5%, the highest than any other point since the onset of the pandemic.

With the province allocating 50% of vaccine shipments to hotspot regions, throughout this week and next, the hope is to target communities struggling to contain the spread of the virus and offer vital protection through vaccination. The latest expansion of vaccine eligibility to include all Peel Region residents aged 18+, opens up spots for an additional 50,000 area residents who previously did not meet the eligibility factors.

Throughout Peel, eleven mass vaccination clinics are in operation. In addition to the community, hospital and pop-up clinics, the Region announced six new workplace clinics will open to essential workers in the area.

The new workplace sites: HelloFresh, Walmart, Loblaws, Magna, Air Canada and Purolator, will be available to employees of each respective facility.

To date, Peel has administered 590,797 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Roughly 40% of the population have received at least one shot. Peel Region’s goal is to vaccinate 75% of the population, but no timeline as to when that will be achieved.

In an email message to CNMNG, a spokesperson from Peel Public Health wrote: “We are vaccinating at a rate of 1% of our adult population every day”. As of May 7, only 26,090 people are fully vaccinated, about 1.7% of the regional population.

Feature photo C/O Peel Public Health

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