March 3rd, 2021

NDP calls for hot-spot neighbourhoods and people with underlying conditions to be included in vaccine priority

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ford government to include disproportionately-impacted neighbourhoods in the vaccine priority list, as well as adults with serious underlying health conditions.

“Vaccines are the light at the end of a very long tunnel,” said Horwath. “Local public health units are doing the best they can on their own, building their own systems and getting vaccines into arms. But they need the Ford government to fix the priority list, put a system in place, and direct doses to the most at-risk groups.”

Ontario’s own science table recommended including the highest-risk postal codes in the priority group, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) recommends including people with high-risk conditions in the priority group with the oldest seniors.

“People living in the neighbourhoods with the most community spread have the most risk — they’re often essential workers, and disproportionately racialized. We know that sending vaccines into those hardest-hit communities can help stop the spread and save more lives — yet they’re nowhere on the priority list. Adults at grave risk because of serious health conditions are also being forced to wait. Folks with serious chronic conditions have no idea when their turn will come, and for those with high-risk conditions, and their loved ones, the anxiety of not knowing if their shot will get to them before the virus does is agonizing.”

The Ford government’s age-only prioritization means adults in high-risk areas or with serious health conditions could be waiting months longer for their vaccine.

Horwath and the NDP recently proposed creating an Equity Strategy for getting resources, including vaccines, into the hardest-hit communities. The Ford government voted that idea down, twice.