SASKATOON — Mayor Charlie Clark is defending his comments on having people who do not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine to have limited movement, where he even suggested issuing vaccine passports as the Delta variant continues to cause problems in most parts of the world.
Clark, earlier this week, said certain measures must be implemented where people who refuse to get vaccinated will have limited participation in community activities. A vaccine passport would give residents access to various events if they had one or the full dose of the vaccine.
However, his remarks received mixed reactions from the people of Saskatoon.
“My comments on vaccine passports have stirred up a lot of discussion and emotion,” said Clark in a post on his social media page.
“I know this is a very tough issue and we are all frustrated that we are even having to talk about it, as we had hoped that the arrival of the vaccine would allow us to have a more normal summer and fall.”
The city’s two-term chief executive added that swift action must be taken with cases again on the rise.
“The reality is that this situation requires us to still take measures as a society so that our health care system can function, so that we can keep people from serious illness and death, and so that our economy can recover.”
As of Friday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority reported that there are 258 new cases in the province, 208 of which were among people who were not vaccinated while another 18 are among people who have had their first dose. The remaining 32 are fully vaccinated.
Clark even cited a report from the Financial Post where an economist of a major bank warned that the economies of provinces that fail to implement vaccine passports will continue to suffer in the fourth wave of the pandemic.
“This Financial Post article speaks to the importance of this for our economy. One thing I have heard repeatedly from members of our business community is how important it is to try and create greater certainty in order to operate successfully.”
Beata Caranci, Toronto-Dominion Bank’s chief economist, said in the article that vaccine passports can boost the confidence both of consumers and businesses. "Are you taking every means possible to make sure your business stays open during this wave as vaccines buffer against hospitalization risk. Those provinces doing that put themselves in a better position than those who don’t.”
Clark said that both the consumer and businesses need reassurance right now and having a vaccine document will help. Not doing so will only create anxiety with the local economy again at the receiving end of the negative impact.
“The current state of hodgepodge measures and a lack of proper infrastructure such as easily accessible proof of vaccine documents creates uncertainty, and this is where people's confidence in being able to participate in society breaks down,” added Clark.
“This means more hesitance to support local businesses like restaurants, more concern about being able to attend a sports game or concert to support the sports and arts communities. If we see continued rise in COVID cases which is what all signs are pointing to — this will only get more challenging.