‘It’s Unacceptable’: Quebec Prime Minister Criticizes Anti-Vaccine Protesters Targeting Secondary Schools | The Canadian News

Quebec’s prime minister and education minister on Friday condemned the anti-vaccine protests that took place outside Montreal’s high schools this week, as the province reported its highest daily COVID-19 case count since May.

“It is unacceptable that anti-vaccines involve our children in their fight,” Prime Minister François Legault told reporters in Quebec City. “Please take our children out of this debate.”

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge spoke out against what he called intimidation of children and school personnel by anti-vaccine activists.

Earlier in the week, a small group of anti-vaccine protesters outside Louis-Riel High School in Montreal urged students not to get vaccinated, launching false conspiracy theories that the sudden death Tuesday of a 10th grader in school was a reaction to vaccination. .

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The 15-year-old girl’s family told the Montreal Journal that she did indeed have an existing heart condition and had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since June.

Roberge said it was irresponsible for protesters to use the teenager’s tragic death to fuel misinformation. “Going around schools, instrumentalizing children, intimidating children and school personnel, this is unacceptable,” he said Friday.

Both Legault and the Education Minister said they had spoken with Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault about ensuring a greater police presence to monitor the situation outside the schools.

On Friday, Montreal police were aware of another anti-vaccination protest at the Louis-Joseph-Papineau high school in the northeast of the city.

“Montreal police are aware of the situation around certain secondary schools in their territory,” the force said. “We take it very seriously and are monitoring it closely.”

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Police refused to grant an interview, but said in a statement that they respect citizens’ rights to legally protest. They said they are willing to intervene in case of any crime or at the request of education officials.

On Friday, Quebec reported 879 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number of daily cases in the province since mid-May. The Health Department reported four more deaths related to the disease and the number of hospitalizations increased by nine, to 207, with 72 people in intensive care.

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The Quebec Public Health Institute said Laval, the large northern suburb of Montreal, remains the worst-affected region in Quebec, with 175.6 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. It is followed by the neighboring region of Lanaudiere, with 100.3 active cases per 100,000 inhabitants. There are 70 active cases per 100,000 inhabitants throughout the province.

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Legault said on Friday that he is concerned about rising COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations, and said that is why Quebec has acted by introducing measures such as mandatory masks in schools, a vaccination passport and requiring vaccinations for health personnel in mid-October.

“It’s getting worse, not as (bad) as in the United States or Europe, so we have to be very careful,” Legault said.

The Health Department says the number of elementary and secondary schools reporting active COVID-19 cases rose to 564 on Wednesday, the most recent day for which data is available. It says that 776 students and 94 school staff members have active COVID-19 cases.

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The institute of public health says that 88.1 percent of residents age 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 82.7 percent are considered adequately vaccinated.

“The vast majority of people in hospitals are people who are not vaccinated, so please, the 12 percent who did not get at least one dose, do so,” Legault said.

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