By now, we all know that the Canadian government’s vaccine management has been one of the worst “horror stories” at this time of the pandemic. Of course, some of these stories originated in previous governments policies. When the Conservatives were in office, they sold a federal facility that produced vaccines (the multinational that bought it closed it down). For its part, this current government’s lack of vision led to privilege the purchase of vaccines from foreign multinationals—at a cost still kept secret and with no guarantee as to when they would be delivered—while giving paltry grants to domestic projects to develop our own vaccine.
That’s the federal scenario, but as the actual implementation of the shots is under provincial jurisdiction, we have had our own blunders to deal with here in Quebec. For instance, until the beginning of this week, downtown residents had been left out of the vaccination campaign. The Peter McGill ward (downtown west-end) population in the Ville Marie borough comprises a large proportion of seniors. However, the “geniuses” at the CIUSSS (the Centre integré universitaire des Services Sociaux et de Santé) that oversee health care in the area had initially set only four vaccination centres for them. All of those facilities were located outside the Peter McGill district: Palais des congrès (eastern part of downtown), Carré Décarie (in Snowdon), 7101, avenue du Parc (in Park Extension), and the Bill Durnan Arena (in Côte des Neiges). These locations would have forced seniors to go far away from their neighbourhoods, most likely by public transit, and—paradoxically—exposing these persons, seeking immunization, to contagion.
The initial blunder was eventually fixed, thanks to the action by Westmount-St-Louis MNA, Ms. Jennifer Maccarone. She was acting on behalf of downtown and Westmount citizens left out of the vaccination campaign. The CIUSSS now has added three more sites for COVID-19 vaccination: MUHC Glen site, MUHC Montreal General Hospital, and CLSC Métro (located at the St. Mathieu entrance to the Guy-Concordia metro station).
What still makes many people wonder about the original choices made by the CIUSSS, is that there are other large facilities in the area that could have easily accommodated vaccination centres. The McGill Gym on Pine Ave., the atriums of Concordia University on De Maisonneuve, and some of the common areas of Dawson College are all located in the downtown west-end or within walking distance of this neighbourhood.
In any case, downtown seniors in particular and other district residents, in general, may feel some relief now that new vaccination centres have been added. Well, that until the next blunder by government bureaucrats, which, as we all know, are not the brightest kind of people in town.