Horwath criticized for opposing mandatory COVID shots

The leader of Ontario’s New Democrats is facing criticism for opposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for education workers.

Andrea Horwath has said she supports regular rapid virus tests for unvaccinated education workers before they come to work.

She told CBC in an interview Wednesday that she considers it a charter right for people to refuse the vaccine.

Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford has also said he won’t mandate vaccinations for workers, saying he thinks it’s a constitutional right to refuse the shot.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca has been calling for mandatory COVID-19 shots for education workers ahead of the September return to school.

He says Horwath and Ford are appealing to “anti-vax” voters and says Horwath’s stance is disappointing for progressives in Ontario.

The head of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, who has called for mandatory shots for health and education workers, says Horwath is getting bad advice.

In a since-deleted tweet, federal Ontario NDP MP Charlie Angus also criticized Horwath’s stance, calling her comments “idiocy.”

Horwath did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Ford government’s back-to-school plan, released this week, doesn’t require COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible teachers or students.

Ontario reported 213 COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 14 deaths from the virus, though several of the deaths occurred in previous months.

The province said 12 of the deaths happened between February and May and are now being reported due to a data cleaning initiative.

According to Public Health Ontario, from the end of June to the end of July, unvaccinated people were eight times more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people.

Unvaccinated people 60 and older were 15 times more likely to be hospitalized than their fully vaccinated counterparts.