'No more nonsense': Ontario Liberals call on government to get tough on anti-vaxxers

Ontario’s Liberal Party is calling on the provincial government to make vaccines mandatory for transit passengers, as well as eligible students and employees who interact with customers as the fourth wave of COVID-19 continues to climb.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said the Ontario government should adopt an aggressive approach as it tries to convince the remaining eligible residents to get their first dose of the vaccine while combating “anti-science misinformation” with legislation that would restrict protests.

“No more nonsense. No more exceptions. No more delay,” Del Duca said, suggesting people are losing patience with Premier Doug Ford’s “softness on public safety.”

Del Duca says the government should convene a meeting of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to deal with “anti-vaccine abuse, harassment and violence” and create an “exclusion zone” around hospitals entrance to ensure protesters don’t prevent staff and patients from accessing healthcare.

The provincial party believes the criminal code should be strengthened in order to combat the anti-vaccine demonstrations and said the Ford government needs to take a similar approach.

“If you choose to go in a different direction in this province and you’re going to break the law and step over that line, there are going to be consequences,” Del Duca said.

At the same time, Del Duca says he can empathize with people from racialized communities who have “understandable angst” and “legitimate hesitation” about the vaccine based on historical circumstances that led to mistrust of government.

Del Duca suggested, however, the government should still take a hardline approach to those who are vaccine resistant by preventing them from boarding provincially-regulated transit systems such as GO trains and busses to protect other vaccinated passengers.

“I am extremely empathetic to those individuals who have legitimate vaccine hesitancy … including people who come from racialized communities,” Del Duca said. “But, on balance, we need to be in a spot where we get through this pandemic and get to the other side.”

The Liberals are also calling on the province to eliminate the testing requirements for health-care and education workers who refuse to get vaccinated, and do not have a medical exemption.

Del Duca also said the vaccine passport system, set to be implemented in Ontario on Sept. 22, should also apply to employees who interact with customers. Workers are currently excluded from the requirements.