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It's time to talk about mandatory vaccinations, says Canada's health minister

Jean-Yves Duclos says the decision will ultimately be up to the provinces and territories
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In a press conference, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos noted 50% of hospitalizations in Quebec are due to people not having been vaccinated.

Canada’s health minister said it’s time for the federal government and provinces to consider making vaccinations mandatory across the country.

“Vaccinations are the only thing that’s going to end the crisis,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos at a press conference in Ottawa Friday.

Duclos made the comments based on his “personal understanding” of the progression of the pandemic, both Internationally and across Canada, as well as from conversations with his provincial counterparts. 

On Thursday, Duclos met with provincial health ministers across the country. Duclos said the decision to make vaccinations mandatory will ultimately be up to the provinces and territories.

With nearly every jurisdiction in Canada battling a steep rise in Omicron cases, the minister described the health-care situation in Canada as “fragile,” its people tired and the health-care capacity of the Canadian Armed Forces as limited. 

“Fifty per cent of hospitalizations in Quebec are due to people not having been vaccinated. That’s a burden on health-care workers, a burden on society which is very difficult to bear, and for many people, difficult to understand,” he said. 

“That’s why I’m signalling this as a conversation that provinces and territories, along with support from the federal government, will want to have over the coming weeks and months.” 

In B.C., from Dec. 22 to Jan. 4, 333 people were in hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 37.5% were not vaccinated, 58.9% were fully vaccinated and 3.6% were partially vaccinated.