The Alberta government’s recent announcement of a $100 incentive to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is not just a lazy alternative to a vaccine verification system, but a slap in the face to those who have done the right thing up until this point.
In a press conference last week – after two weeks of silence – Premier Jason Kenney announced a slate of new measures to help curb the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Alberta. These include a return to mandatory masking in public indoor settings, a 10 p.m. curfew for serving alcohol in bars, and a requested limit of 10 people for gatherings among Albertans who are not vaccinated.
Another measure announced was the introduction of a $100 pre-loaded debit card that will be awarded to those who receive their first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Sept. 4. It’s a weak attempt at what is essentially government bribery, that will still potentially cost Albertan taxpayers millions of dollars.
Clearly, something had to be done to stimulate Alberta’s lagging vaccination demand. As Kenny touted during his press conference, the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alberta are unvaccinated. It’s these people whose inaction in the last few months has spurred the fourth wave of the pandemic, and they are the ones who risk straining Alberta's health-care system.
During his press conference, Kenney said the government has “left no stone unturned” in their fight to convince anti-vaxxers that getting the two jabs is the fastest way out of this pandemic. The largest stone of all, however, has certainly been left unturned.
Other provinces, including Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, have announced or launched vaccination “passports,” which require proof of vaccination for access to various non-essential services. This is a route Alberta government officials have said multiple times they will not take – despite polls showing the majority of Albertans are in favour of the idea.