‘This will get enforced’: Dix says flouting COVID-19 vaccine passport will have consequences


VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C.’s health minister says those defying the requirement to show a COVID-19 vaccine passport to access non-essential businesses can expect to face consequences, including having the police called if they cause a disturbance.

Details of what kinds of fines or sanctions people will face have yet to be finalized, Adrian Dix said Monday.

“This will get enforced,” Dix said. “Some of them through health authorities, some of them are through bylaw officers. Some of them, of course, will involve the police, should that be necessary.”

RELATED: B.C. premier confident businesses pledging to defy vaccine passport are a minority

Dix’s comments come after Premier John Horgan said Friday that those who become belligerent or aggressive can expect the same response as anyone behaving badly at a business.

“It’s not unlike nightclubs or the hospitality sector — if they have difficulty with patrons they call law enforcement, he said.

“That’s what I would expect would happen with respect to the vaccination card as well.”

Police unions react

Over the weekend, the union representing RCMP officers issued a statement saying members are “concerned about Premier Horgan’s recent statement that businesses having difficulty with customers related to vaccine passports should call the police for enforcement.” President Brian Sauvé added that police across the province are being asked to respond to businesses and individuals in need “more and more with no additional resources or funding.”

According to Statistics Canada, the Vancouver Police Department received 330 calls for service related to COVID-19 enforcement between March 2020 and June 2021 — an average of roughly 20 calls per month. The highest volume was in December of 2020 when they received 94. In nine of the 16 months the numbers were in single digits. The average number of calls received per month during this period was 3,882.

RELATED: RCMP union ‘concerned’ by B.C. premier’s vaccine passport comments

Ralph Kaisers, speaking for the BC Police Association, told NEWS that anyone calling to report refusal to provide a COVID-19 vaccine passport would likely face a lengthy wait.

“The 911 call takers will make an assessment as to what kind of priority that call is, and the call would be put on our board and dispatched accordingly. That still could be two, three hours — or a day depending on the resources in the municipality that call has been dispatched,” he said.

“Obviously, as far as public safety is concerned, we do want our members available to respond to those most important priority calls when members of the public phone in needing our service.”

Increasing overall vaccination rates province’s priority: Dix

Getting as many people in B.C, as possible immunized is the province’s priority amid persistently high case counts and hospitalizations, and with cold and flu season on the horizon.

“We have one of the highest levels now in Canada, and we need it to be higher. When you see the vast majority of cases in the small number and the small percentage of those who are unvaccinated — you see how effective immunization can be,” he said.

“No one says you have to, but that doesn’t mean you can do everything you might want to do. This is a vicious virus and that’s why we need to take these steps to keep people safe.”

Between Aug. 13 and 26, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 81.7 per cent of cases and 85.8 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.

Dix said he understands that people may be frustrated with ramped-up restrictions like the vaccine passport and the return of the mask mandate — but there has been a spike in the number of the people showing up to get the shot since they were announced.

“What we’re going to do is continue to do what we’ve been doing from the beginning, which is adapt. We understand that measures affect people, we understand that every time you take a step it has other consequences.”

Phase 4 of the province’s restart plan is not, Dix confirmed, going to begin on Sept. 7.

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