Officials at Transport Canada, who drafted the policy to require travelers to be vaccinated, say they have no scientific background and rely uncritically on public health information, but court documents show that she are still rejecting or interpreting the data.
“It is not my responsibility to question or analyze the data provided to me by public health professionals in this country,” said Jennifer Little, Director of Transport Canada’s COVID Recovery Team. said.
Little filed an affidavit in April and was cross-examined in June as part of the government’s defense of four lawsuits challenging its travel obligations. The mandate was suspended by liberals on June 20, but they warned that it could be brought back depending on the circumstances.
Little’s cross-examination revealed that she questioned the data by setting aside information or interpreting it to support vaccine mandates.
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has a team that reviews essentially all new scientific literature on COVID-19. We have reviewed the issue of in-flight transmission of the virus SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, and produced the first report with information up to May 2021.
After an order was issued in late July to begin drafting policy recommendations, most chose not to consider this summary of evidence.
“In my view, this document was not particularly relevant. [a] Mandatory vaccination because it did not provide up-to-date data in relation to higher contagiousness of delta VOCs [variant of concern]’ she wrote in an affidavit.
“What are your qualifications to make that judgment?” asked attorney Sam Presvelos during cross-examination.
Little said the data seemed too old to be useful to support her policymaking.
“So you don’t know how similar the different subspecies of SARS-CoV-2 are, or how the mechanisms differ, but whether or not this could be related to that. We’ve made a judgment: looking at the transmission of different subspecies could be relevant to understanding subsequent subspecies, right?” Presvelos said.
“Like I said, I’m not a scientist,” said Little, to which Presbelus replied, “I know.”
Little has a bachelor’s degree in English and said, to her knowledge, none of her team of fewer than 20 people has a scientific background.
The latest version of the PHAC report is called “Evidence on the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission in Flight: Update 3”. It was published November 2021.
A version containing information up to May 2021 has been difficult to obtain, but the most recent one states that “the risk of in-flight infection is low across the review.”
In defending the mandate, Little also referred to COVID-19 testing conducted at the border.
“There was considerable test evidence … which showed that vaccination was effective in preventing spread in aircraft,” she said in a PHAC document “all countries used all tests”. The number of cases and travelers”.
“We were very confident [a] Mandatory vaccinations will keep Canadians and other travelers on Canadian transport safe. ”
The PHAC documents show a high prevalence of positivity among unvaccinated travelers, and are related to Little’s affidavit, but they don’t know when the infection may have occurred, or whether they were infected on board the plane. I didn’t say whether it was related or not.
Basis for “Sound”
While stating that the mandate policy was supported by PHAC information, Little testified that he could not recall whether PHAC or its parent department, Health Canada, had recommended a mandate for travel vaccines.
In her affidavit, she wrote that PHAC believed there was a “sound” basis for vaccination, but made no mention of obligations.
On October 18, 2021, days before vaccine mandates take effect, Transport Canada’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Aaron McCrory called on PHAC senior managers to obtain the latest COVID-19 data relevant to the transport sector. I wrote a letter.
PHAC’s Director of Strategic Policy Division Dawn Lumley-Myllari replied on 28 October that the public health evidence for vaccination remains sound.
This was apparently taken as confirmation that vaccine requirements should be imposed on transport.
“The fact that PHAC considered the public health basis for immunization sound, was an important basis for the mandate phase one came into effect two days later,” Little wrote.
The court documents do not say whether Ramlee Mirari thought it was “sound” to require vaccinations for travelers.
Little’s affidavit states that Ramlee Mirari was “the focal point for coordinating PHAC’s public health rationale to assist in the formulation of government-wide immunization policies.”
Ethics of PHAC Framework To combat the pandemic, it does not refer to mandatory vaccination, but to the principles of minimizing harm and respecting human rights.