Visitors to federal prisons, as well as prison employees, will soon be required to have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry — though the rule doesn't apply to prison inmates, says Blacklock's Reporter.
The Correctional Service said in a statement that it preferred education to coercion in dealing with prisoners themselves:
"Inmates are not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine and must consent to being vaccinated," said Marie-Pier Lécuyer, spokesperson for the Correctional Service. "We continue to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated."
"Staff continue to engage with inmates by providing educational materials to answer their questions or concerns so that they can make informed decisions," said Lécuyer. That said, effective January 24, all visitors to penitentiaries and parole offices must show proof of vaccination to enter the premises, she added.
She also stated that federal inmates have a lower vaccination rate than the general public:
"To date 80% of inmates are fully vaccinated and 85% have received at least one dose," said Lécuyer. That compares to 84% of eligible Canadians who are fully vaccinated and 88% who have at least one dose of federally-approved COVID shots.
A total 1,588 out of 60,243 federal prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic, and six have died.
While prison employees are required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or grounds for exemption, and inmates are not, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday told the Liberal caucus that Canadians who have declined COVID shots think they "deserve special treatment."
"I can’t imagine any of you putting up your hand and saying, 'Well, I deserve special treatment because I’m an MP; I deserve not to need to get vaccinated because I’m an MP and you should be making exceptions for us,'" said Trudeau. "I can’t imagine any of you, ever even occurring to you to say that."
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a total five million Canadians have declined COVID shots to date.
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