Saskatoon

Sask. gov't told of more alleged COVID-19 vaccine fraud, including forged vaccine cards

"I've got a zero tolerance for that kind of stupidity," Health Minister Paul Merriman says.

'I've got a zero tolerance for that kind of stupidity,' health minister says

Paul Merriman is Saskatchewan's minister of health. (CBC)

More forms of alleged COVID-19 vaccine fraud are coming to light in Saskatchewan.

Dr. Carla Holinaty, a Saskatoon family doctor, addressed Health Minister Paul Merriman on Friday during a virtual questions-and-answer session hosted by the Saskatchewan Medical Association. 

Holinaty said she wanted to share "some really troubling stories" she heard about vaccine fraud in the health-care system.

"We've heard stories of people stealing stocks of vaccine cards and filling them out fraudulently and selling them to people," she said. 

"We've heard stories of health-care workers who are certified to be private COVID test providers offering to sell fraudulent results to people. And the most concerning thing is that when other people within our system become aware of these, they are worried about reporting them because they don't have an anonymous way to do so."

Holinaty cited the "threatening" anti-vaccine posters taking aim at health-care workers that recently plastered a Yorkton hospital.

"I think that people are rightly afraid of retribution from the anti-vaccine camp," she said. 

Holinaty called on the government to launch a confidential system for people to speak up "without having to fear for their safety."

'This is just absolutely ridiculous': minister

CBC News has reached out to the Saskatchewan Health Authority for comment. 

Holinaty's remarks came days after CBC News reported the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals confirmed "various forms of vaccine fraud have occurred within the province," including people paying others to get vaccinated against COVID-19 under their name. 

Merriman said the Yorkton posters were "not acceptable" and strongly denounced any vaccine fraud taking place. 

"This is just absolutely ridiculous," Merrian said. "We're not getting vaccines in people's arms just to get vaccines in people's arms. We're trying to protect them."

Merriman said the government could set up an anonymous system to report on other health-care workers, promising "no repercussions" for anyone who comes forward. 

"I've got a zero tolerance for that kind of stupidity," he said of those committing fraud. 

Holinaty thanked Merriman and said that would be really appreciated.

Where to report

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said it was not able to verify if the fraud mentioned by Holinaty has happened at any Saskatchewan clinics, but said people involved in such schemes would be reported to police.

The health authority also noted the province has a website where people can fill out a form to inform officials about people allegedly not following the public health orders.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa, originally from Cornwall, Ontario.

Story tips? Email me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca or DM me @gqinott on Twitter.

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