A weapon of mass distraction
CHRONICLE – Each era has its scapegoats, particularly in times of crisis.
In considering taxing those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 through a “health contribution”, the Premier of Quebec, François Legault, seeks to divide to conquer better. More than that, it deftly diverts attention, like a mass distraction weapon, from the real issues that should concern us in health and beyond.
The real culprits for the fragility of the Quebec health care system are the cuts and cuts that have been orchestrated in recent decades by several governments.
A weakened social safety net, well before the pandemic
The Quebec model is found everywhere, here and there, not only in health, but in education and early childhood, in social services, in the community network and so on. It's not just physical health that matters in uncertain times. The government does not seem to have a solid mental health plan as public morale is sorely tested.
I can say having worked for several years in intervention, it was already difficult before the pandemic. Many of us were already warning that it would only take one crisis for everything to crumble. Well, here we are, here we are. Not only the speakers on the ground were obviously not listened to, but the worst seems to come. Insidiously, the areas that have suffered the most are those where women are in the majority as service providers. A gender-differentiated and intersectional analysis would therefore be required to assess the different decisions of the government and their impacts on women as well as between different groups of women. The pandemic confirms that it is women who hold our social safety net at arm's length.
A 100% vaccinated population?
To be honest, I don't like the word “load shedding”. It's a fancy wordwhich actually hides very great human tragedies. For example, many people waiting for cancer surgeries are seeing their appointments postponed in the context of a pandemic, while for these cancer patients, every minute counts. As distressing as this situation is, it would be ill-advised to divert one's anger and exasperation onto the unvaccinated to explain the current state of affairs.
In addition to the fact that the health contribution poses many ethical and legal issues, I wonder if it is possible, even realistic, to aspire to vaccinate 100% of the population. Is it also reasonable to believe that even by having 100% of the Quebec population vaccinated we will defeat the pandemic? I tend to think that it is not so simple, especially in a context where many countries do not have access to vaccines as easily as rich countries.
Should we refuse care? to anyone who engages in behavior considered “at risk” in terms of health? Asking the question seems to open a Pandora's box that would be difficult to close. We should probably try to understand why these people are not vaccinated. Beyond the “anti-vax” archetype, the portrait is likely to be much more complex, surprising and diverse than one might think at first glance.