Premier John Horgan did not mince words when asked whether the newly-launched BC Vaccine Card restricts people's rights and freedoms.
"This is not about restricting people's rights," explained the premier. "This is about giving more rights to people who have taken the necessary steps to protect themselves."
Horgan went to say that no one will be denied essential services for not having a BC Services Card. "There will be no inability for people to go grocery shopping, to go into retail establishments."
The premier was addressing reporter questions following the launch of the provincial vaccine card Tuesday (Sept. 7), which has a secure, individualized QR code and image that shows a person's vaccination status.
"People are getting vaccinated because it's the right thing to do to move forward and people have been doing this for decades in British Columbia and Canada," Horgan said. "Vaccines are a credible way to protect us from the diseases that have been plaguing the earth for a long, long time."
People who want to express their "grievances" should also do so with an elected representative rather than outside of health care facilities, he added.
"We shouldn't disagree on the fundamental premise that we want to keep our neighbours safe. And we have the ability to do that by taking an individual action for a collective benefit.
"I hope that all British Columbians will hear that message [and] take the steps to get themselves vaccinated. It's safe. It's effective. It's free."
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted that individuals who don't provide proof of vaccination in businesses that require them may face fines of up to $575, too.
Health care workers respond to massive anti-vaccine protests in Vancouver
On Sept. 1, thousands of demonstrators across B.C. protested the vaccination certification program. Described as a "worldwide walkout movement" for "health freedom" by organizers, over a thousand people gathered outside of the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and blocked entrances to many of the facility's key arteries, including those at neighbouring BC Cancer.
Vinay Dhingra, Vancouver Acute’s Senior Medical Director, works in the intensive care unit at VGH and has worked with several patients who had COVID-19. While he says he felt "frustrated and angry" at times, he was also disappointed.
"I feel rather mad — whether it's malicious or not — that people are getting such poor information," he told Vancouver Is Awesome. "It's disheartening when we have very good information out there; we know the science."
Other health care workers shared stories on social media from the day of the protests. One of them said the protest made some staff, as well as critically ill patients and grieving family members, cry.