Your chance of being exempt from a COVID-19 vaccination should be 1 in 20,000. If you’re one of Doug Ford’s MPPs, it’s 1 in 35

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This is the story of two Tories.

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Chatham-area MPP Rick Nichols told Premier Doug Ford the truth about not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and was kicked out of the Progressive Conservative caucus.

Durham MPP Lindsay Park misled Ford about her vaccination status before claiming a previously undisclosed “medical exemption”. She was allowed to remain on the government bench despite the reduced role and pay cut.


Park’s exemption is raising questions about how a statistically improbable proportion of Tory MPPs — two out of 70 — qualify for the exemption for shots that would allow Ford to contest next June’s provincial election across all of its MPPs and candidates. is needed.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore said the narrow list of valid medical exemptions – mainly severe allergic reactions and swelling in or around the heart – means “only one to five out of 100,000” Ontarians qualify for one. should receive.

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“Two of the 70 are very curious,” New Democrat leader Andrea Horvath said as Moore told a news conference that an overall “review” of exemption levels is needed.

“I want to make sure that all Ontarians have the benefit of the protection of vaccinations, and that a false medical exemption or falsehood circumvents our ability to protect them,” said Moore, who was specifically referred to as the MPP. was not asked about.

Nichols was replaced as deputy speaker by Tory MPP Bill Walker on Tuesday, six weeks after Ford ousted Nichols from the PC caucus. He insists that he was merely exercising his “personal preference” in refusing to vaccinate.

“Do I see some double standards? Yes, I do.’

“But you know what? Lindsay made a choice, and then the government made a choice and I would let that be between her and the leader of her house,” Nichols said.

He said he spoke briefly with Park on Monday night, but said, “I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole.”

Park was removed from her role as parliamentary assistant to Attorney General Doug Downey on Friday night after she “misrepresented her vaccination status” to her colleagues. She has not returned calls, texts or direct messages from Star in the last two days.

His relegation would cost him $16,600 per year, a 12 percent pay cut.

Questions are now being raised about how Parks and Tory MPP Christina Mitas (Scarborough Center) were able to obtain a medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, the minister in charge of the vaccine rollout, was unhappy with media questions about the Tory caucus’ apparent discrepancy of 2.9 percent, no more than 0.001 to 0.005 percent, compared to what Moore said. of the general population.

“I will leave it up to individuals to explain to their constituents – if they so choose – what their medical exemption is. I will let them explain it,” she said.

Jones did not hide his displeasure with Park, sources say, privately assuring several Tory MPPs and staff members in August that he was being vaccinated.

“I am not happy. It is obviously disappointing that there was not much leadership shown in the case of that person,” said the Solicitor General.

Opposition parties, which maintain all their MPPs are vaccinated, exempt numbers in the Tory caucus defying statistical norms, while health industry observers say a verification system for exemptions without central tracking is lacking. invites problems.

“People expect that when it comes to things like the global pandemic, when it comes to things like COVID-19, our MPPs will demonstrate the importance of being honest and taking a leadership-type position,” Horvath said .

“I hope that the Government side will confirm the information provided by these members.”

That sentiment was echoed by rivals including Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who said the two Tory MPPs seemed “out of whack” with the waiver.

Green Leader Mike Schreiner called it a “statistical anomaly.” “I would strongly encourage the PC caucus to verify all medical exemptions that their members have put forward.”

Moore said claims of severe allergic reactions to the first dose of vaccines should be confirmed by allergists.

“Even these allergists, when they have assessed patients, have found that they are able to safely administer a second dose to individuals who thought they had a severe allergic reaction,” he said. told at the news conference.

The chief medical officer said he has been hearing about a medical exemption rate of “one to two percent” from some employers.

“To me, that seems high. We need to give physicians and nurse practitioners a better understanding of what the actual medical exemption is.”

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, which regulates doctors and can enforce discipline for not following professional standards, said COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for the “vast majority” of patients.

“Intentionally providing exemption documents to patients who do not meet the ministry’s (of health’s) criteria or granting exemptions to circumvent vaccination mandates could constitute serious misconduct,” the college said. “Wherever we become aware of the allegations, we will take all appropriate steps to investigate.”

Robert Benzie Starr is Queens Park’s bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie
Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter who covers Ontario politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @RobFerguson1
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