Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.

Kootenay-Columbia MP slams COVID-19 vaccination plan for federal inmates

Rob Morrison says vaccines should go to seniors, front line health care workers first

Inmates in Canadian correctional facilities should not be receiving a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of frontline health care workers and seniors, according to Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison.

“I don’t believe that one criminal should be vaccinated ahead of one vulnerable Canadian or frontline health worker,” said Morrison. “When they’re vaccinated ahead of the front line health worker, that, to me, is an issue and I don’t agree with that whatsoever.

We need to get our vulnerable seniors, frontline medical staff and other essential workers — we need to get them the vaccine.”

Correctional Service Canada (CSC) expected to roll out vaccinations to ‘highest-risk’ inmates in prison facilities, starting on Jan. 8, according to a government news release.

The move was is part of recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which provides guidance on identifying priority groups for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Per legislation under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the federal government is responsible for providing essential health care to federally incarcerated inmates.

According to data from the Correctional Services Canada, there have been 1,201 total positive test cases and three deaths in correctional facilities as of Jan. 7, 2021. Of that total, 1,054 cases have recovered, and 144 are currently active.

The latest count from Statistics Canada notes that there were 14,071 people in custody in 2018/2019.

“Right now, we know that just over one per cent of offenders right now who are incarcerated have COVID — one per cent — said Morrison. “So that’s a very small number and really, it’s our prison guards that should be protecting to start with, then move to the inmates as we can.

“But we’re limited with the number of vaccinations right now. It’s not like we have 35 million vaccinations, so with the limited number, we should be prioritizing those in need. When we have our elderly like our grandmothers and parents who are in senior homes where we can’t visit them and haven’t been able to visit them for months and months — when we can’t get vaccinations to them, and yet we’re giving them to prisoners, that doesn’t seem to be the right way to go.”



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

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