In the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, November 10, Premier Sandy Silver responded to the petition put forward by the Yukon Party, which urges the Yukon government to rescind all COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the Yukon. He also spoke to media about the response.
Here is the Premier’s response, which you can also watch back in the video archives at yukonassembly.ca/house-business/coverage-proceedings:
Honourable Speaker I rise today to respond to Petition #5.
The petition urges the Yukon government to immediately rescind any and all requirements for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in the Yukon, first announced on October 15, 2021.
The short answer, Honourable Speaker, is no.
COVID-19 continues to spread and endanger the lives of our citizens.
We need to take action to increase vaccination rates and keep Yukoners healthy and safe, and that is what our government is doing.
The Yukon’s acting Chief Medical Officer of Health has recommended mandatory vaccines for public servants and those working with vulnerable populations, and requiring individuals to show proof of vaccination to access non-essential settings like bars and restaurants.
Science is our best guide when dealing with a pandemic and we will continue to follow the recommendations of our public health experts.
I urge individuals who are hesitant about vaccines to speak to a doctor or nurse about their concerns.
The vaccines are safe and effective at preventing serious illness, including death.
Vaccination is our best protection against COVID-19, and our fastest way out of the pandemic.
Honourable Speaker, I will note for the record the significant difference in the positions being taken by the Yukon Employees’ Union and the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s National Component, which represents employees of the federal government, Canada’s largest workforce.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada has noted publicly that employers have an obligation to keep workplaces safe.
“No one can be physically forced to get a vaccine against their will. However, according to the limited case law available, grievors must live with the consequences of refusing to get vaccinated.”
They go on to urge their members that the best and safest thing to do is to get vaccinated.
The choice still belongs to individuals whether they want to get vaccinated or not.
Our choices do have consequences, however, and our individual actions have an impact on the health of our entire territory.
Our government has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of all Yukoners, and we take that responsibility seriously.
With regard to the petition itself, which was tabled by the Member for Watson Lake, it contains several duplicate signatures, as well as the names of residents outside of the Yukon and the name of a white supremacist who killed 51 people at a mosque in New Zealand in 2019.
The day the Yukon Party tabled the petition there were several supporters outside this House, including one carrying a sign that said “Covid is a hoax.”
Ten Yukoners have died from COVID-19, Honourable Speaker – it is no hoax.
The leader of the protest was a former Yukon Party staffer and a former federal conservative candidate.
It was very disappointing to see the Yukon Party embrace this group and their position.
The events that day served to undermine our public health system and the Yukon Party was only too happy to enable that behavior.
Front line health care workers have been subject to increasingly hostile behaviour in recent weeks, including verbal and physical abuse.
It is absolutely irresponsible for any leaders to embolden this behaviour.
I would respectfully ask the NDP take a clear stance on the public health measures that are being introduced to increase vaccination rates and protect Yukoners.
Do they stand behind all of the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health – yes or no?
We need to work together as a territory to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of our communities.
Honourable Speaker I respect the decision of Yukoners to sign a petition and voice their opinion.
I believe we are doing the right thing to keep Yukoners safe and our government will continue to be guided by science and the recommendations of public health experts.