We Canadians are a compliant flock. We have faith in our government. We share a strong egalitarian streak. If there is a line, we’ll stand in it peacefully. But the Liberal government’s bungled rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations is ruffling feathers here, and many people in my parents’ cohort have ditched the wait and flown south in search of their own vaccinations. This may be hard for Americans to understand, but in Canada this qualifies as subversive.
You can hardly blame these seniors. If the government can’t protect them, who will? These people have been cooped up for more than a year, unable to hug their grandchildren or stroll without fearing the quiet menace of aerosol particles. Many complain that the vaccine registration systems, controlled by provinces, are impenetrable or Soviet: You have to know someone or hope for a lucky glitch that lets you slide into the queue. The statistics also offer little hope. So far, 1.8% of Canadians have been fully vaccinated, a rate that puts us slightly behind Brazil.
Further, when the first round of jabs began around February, disheartening news followed. In early March, Canada became the only country in the world to delay the second dose by four months. We love our quirks, but uniquely inept life-and-death policy decisions strain one’s patience. When addressing how that extension would affect the province of British Columbia, Canada’s chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, framed it as a “population-level experiment.” How comforting.
Facing questions about what guidelines Canadians with one shot should follow, Ottawa mangled the message even more: “I would expect the advice to evolve as we go along,” said Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam. “But it’s a bit early.”
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