Pallister strays into racism with vaccine comments Does he not think Indigenous Manitobans are real Manitobans?
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/12/2020 (833 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The only conclusion I can draw after listening to Premier Brian Pallister complain about the federal government’s plan to prioritize Indigenous people for the COVID-19 vaccine is that he doesn’t think Indigenous Manitobans are real Manitobans.
Pallister said Thursday he’s very concerned after talking with the federal government in recent weeks about how the vaccine, expected to arrive in early 2021, will be distributed among the provinces.
He said he’s been assured by Ottawa that an estimated six million doses will be shipped to the provinces based on population. The problem, he says, is that a portion of Manitoba’s per capita allotment will be earmarked for Indigenous communities, depriving the rest of Manitobans of their fair share of the vaccine.
“What that would mean then is that Manitobans who do not live in northern, Indigenous communities would be the least likely to get a vaccine in the country,” said Pallister.
It’s a ludicrous statement.
“Remote or isolated communities, for example, may not have ready access to sufficient health care infrastructure. Therefore, their risk for severe outcomes, including death, and societal disruption is proportionally greater than in other communities.” – NACI guidelines
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) — which is providing expert opinion on Canada’s vaccine rollout — has identified four groups that should be immunized first against COVID-19: residents and staff of congregate settings, health care workers, the elderly, and adults living in Indigenous communities.
“Indigenous communities have been disproportionately impacted by past pandemics,” NACI wrote in its guidelines released Friday. “Remote or isolated communities, for example, may not have ready access to sufficient health care infrastructure. Therefore, their risk for severe outcomes, including death, and societal disruption is proportionally greater than in other communities.”
The premier says he’s not opposed to Indigenous people getting early access to the COVID-19 vaccine. He just doesn’t want it coming out of the province’s share. He argues that because Manitoba has the highest proportion of Indigenous people of any province, setting aside vaccines for them would force the rest of Manitobans “to the back of the line.”
“Manitobans shouldn’t be the ones waiting the longest of any Canadians to get it,” said Pallister.
They won’t be.
Premier Brian Pallister doesn’t have a problem sharing the province’s vaccine allotment with other high-risk groups, including residents and staff at personal care homes.
Under the federal proposal, some Indigenous Manitobans would be first in line for the vaccine, along with other high-priority Manitobans, such as seniors and front-line workers. They would get it first based on the expert advice of those making that assessment.
Like the rest of Canada, lower-risk Manitobans would have to wait for subsequent shipments of the vaccine.
The only way that could be construed as Manitobans being pushed “to the back of the line” is if Indigenous people weren’t considered real Manitobans. It appears that’s how Pallister sees it.
In his world, there are two classes of Manitobans: Indigenous people and “everyone else.” That’s racism.
Because First Nations, Inuit and Métis people fall under federal jurisdiction, Pallister argues Ottawa (which is paying for all the vaccines) should use some other supply to immunize those groups beyond Manitoba’s per capita share. It’s unclear where that supply would come from. The premier conveniently ignores that part of the equation.
Pallister doesn’t have a problem sharing the province’s vaccine allotment with other high-risk groups, including residents and staff at personal care homes. They’re all Manitobans in good standing. It’s just Indigenous groups he has a problem with.
“We’re proud of our Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations working together as people who share neighbourhoods, who share goals for one another,” said Pallister.
If he truly believed that, he wouldn’t see Indigenous people as second-class Manitobans. He would consider them equals and include them in Manitoba’s share of the vaccine (no matter which level of government administers it in Indigenous communities). Instead, he’s driving a wedge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Manitobans.
This is another example of how ill-equipped Premier Brian Pallister is to lead Manitoba during this pandemic.
This is another example of how ill-equipped Pallister is to lead Manitoba during this pandemic. He is emotionally unstable, quarrelsome, unable to admit mistakes and doesn’t possess the kind of good judgment Manitobans desperately need from their leaders right now.
It’s bad enough Pallister failed to adequately prepare Manitoba for the pandemic’s second wave. He’s now found a way to pit Manitobans against Manitobans at the very moment hope has arrived to end this dark period in our lives.
Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.
Updated on Monday, December 7, 2020 5:30 PM CST: Adds bg image and formatting for ATF