There have been 20 deaths among those aged 0-19 in Canada attributed to COVID-19, although in many of those cases there were comorbidities contributing significantly to these deaths. While each of these cases represents a life lost far too soon, these numbers highlight just how little this illness effects youth compared to older populations. In light of this information, when the Government of Alberta implemented its Restriction Exemption Program, otherwise known as a vaccine passport, it deemed youth recreation facilities, such as hockey arenas, to be out of scope. While we oppose vaccine passports encompassing, the government was at the very least acknowledging the reduced severity of outcomes for minors and emphasizing the importance of recreational activities carrying on for the mental and physical wellbeing of youth.
The City of Calgary wasn’t about to let the one intelligible part of the provincial vaccine passport stand — it extended the mandated to be all-encompassing in Calgary, which meant that arenas and sports facilities in the city, even those serving youth athletes, would be forced to implement vaccine passports. This meant that unvaccinated parents and youth would have to undergo several weekly tests at their own expense to participate in recreation. For some families this meant a cost of thousands of dollars.
The city's decision divided communities, rendered some unable to afford recreation for their kids and eliminated what was likely, for many youths, the one remaining semblance of normalcy in the world of COVID-19. While youth mental illness, depression and anxiety were skyrocketing, Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek was apparently too blinded by her pro-vaccine rhetoric to look at the wellbeing of these youth holistically.
Kids need to be kids, and when policies begin to undermine their childhoods, parents become political. A group of over four thousand concerned parents and citizens are part of the ‘Free to Play’ group and have been advocating for youth access to recreation. When we heard their story we agreed to help with their legal battle, and thanks to your donations at FightVaccinePassports.com, these youth are now pushing back legally.
I was joined by lawyer Derek From who is acting as legal counsel for an update on the legal proceeding, and I also spoke with one of the group organizers Chantelle Unger about Free to Play.
If you would like to make a tax receipt eligible donation to support youth access to recreation with vaccine passports, go to FightVaccinePassports.com now to donate. Your contribution goes to The Democracy Fund and is used to hire lawyers who take on troubling cases just like this one.