The government’s public sector safe zone plan could end up creating more problems if all public servants don’t take the COVID-19 vaccine and thousands stay home on furlough—leaving the public without services at hospitals and other places.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar gave this warning at Monday night’s UNC Forum meeting.
“Prime Minister if you try to stop the (COVID) problem this way, you’ll be creating a greater problem of suffering if there are no services for citizens,” she added
She said the policy is discriminatory and could also embolden anti- vaxxers wanting to traffic vaccine conspiracy theories, and spur fraudsters peddling fake vaccination cards.
UNC MP David Lee, who is the Opposition Chief Whip in the House of Representatives, said the Opposition was notified of two bills for Parliament on Friday- a Miscellaneous bill on “testing and identifying.”
Lee asked, “Is this the bill for public servants and vaccinations? We hope they don’t “roadrail” (sic) the Parliament on this testing and identifying bill. Our MPs won’t support mandatory vaccines. We support vaccinations to save lives but not destroy livelihoods.”
Persad- Bissessar said people were being “held to ransom” to take the vaccine or not be paid. She queried if Government was thinking of the unintended consequences of the situation if people in various sectors – from security to corporations and hospitals- refused to take the vaccine and are sent home.
“What will happen to NIS or pension services people need when you don’t have enough staff? ? We’re already overstretched in health care systems.”
Persad- Bissessar urged people to take vaccines and boosters which she said may not totally prevent COVID but can help survival. But she said the UNC doesn’t support mandatory vaccination since the UNC doesn’t want to give Government more power over lives.
She said Government Data Protection Act protects disclosure of peoples’ medical records, “So we’re heading to some kind of chaos on D-day for this public sector plan.“
Persad- Bissessar said the next thing Government would do is call for the vaccination of children and threaten no education for the unvaccinated. But she said the vaccination of a child with such a new vaccine should be the parent’s choice. Also, she said, Government should have responsibility/liability to ensure a child gets top care or compensatory matters if affected.
Persad-Bissessar said Government shouldn’t go “helter-skelter” talking about Carnival but should pay attention to super-spreader threat and COVID deaths.
She attacked the Attorney General at length on several issues but called for him to remove the ban on open pyre cremations and asked why Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had recused himself from a Cabinet meeting.
She said the UNC’s People’s Revolution continues, “We must give PNM the knockout punch and it’s licks like peas in Debe South on February 7. Tobago wiped PNM off the map, Trinidad let’s do the same!“ she said, adding the AG would be charged when the UNC returns to Government and many investigations will be done on PNM Ministers.
UNC’s Saddam Hosein, noting Monday’s Beetham protest and highway shootout in Couva, said the prime minister was missing. “He’s abdicated his responsibility as leader…Where are you Prime Minister, come out and face the pressure (on the public sector plan). You asked for this wuk, come and do it or ring the election bell as we have a lady who ready to take yuh wuk.”