‘Exemptions’ becoming a bigger problem as Manitoba tries to get out of the pandemic

Fake mask exemption medical cards are a tool being used to try and bend the rules in Manitoba. Alex Karpa reports on how business owners are handling this as we make our way through the fourth wave.

By Alex Karpa and CityNews Staff

WINNIPEG (CityNews) – With mask mandates in Canada, the use of fake mask exemption medical cards is on the rise in Manitoba.

An issue that was demonstrated in a video that surfaced online, which appears to show a woman using one of these cards while shopping and it’s situations like these which is putting business owners on edge.

READ MORE: Fake medical exemption cards surfacing across Canada

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce says business owners are incredibly frustrated with having to deal with people who won’t follow health orders and are asking for more clarity from the province.

“To have people come in and use fake cards thinking that they are getting one over on the government, honestly, it’s just not clever,” said Colin Fast, the Director of Policy for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

“We know that there are certain cases, rare cases where there are medical exemptions and there isn’t a good system in place to identify that and so that is something businesses would like to see from the province.”

The province says they are developing a medical exemption process for people in one of three situations:

  • Those who’ve had a severe reaction after the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine;
  • people who are are receiving treatment;
  • or people who have had a severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

A spokesperson from the province tells CityNews, “More details will be made available as soon as that process is finalized.”

The video demonstrates how the idea of using these fake exemption cards is starting to spread.

CityNews reached out to Winnipeg police about the use of the cards, and police said no complaints have been made and if they were to receive one, they would refer the complaint to provincial health. Adding, “there is no indication that there is a criminal element to this event.”

Doctors Manitoba President Dr. Kristjan Thompson is incredibly frustrated with those who are not following public health orders. He says the use of these fake cards just adds to it.

“We’re frustrated because we want this pandemic to be over. How we do that, is by following public health orders, like wearing a mask and being vaccinated. That is really the ticket for us to get out of the pandemic.”

Thompson says there is increasing abuse among healthcare workers trying to enforce mask mandates.

“Just a few weeks ago I had a family member that was coming in to see a loved one who was very sick and potentially about to pass away. They were unvaccinated. There were a lot of immunocompromised patients in emergency that day. I asked them to wear a mask and they didn’t want to. I asked kindly but they came up to me, coughed in my face and pushed me forcefully away. That abuse is not okay and it’s happening more and more,” explained Thompson.

Meanwhile, fast is encouraging businesses to not give up hope and follow the rules.

“We’re just encouraging businesses owners to continue complying with the guidelines as best as they can and if they do run into trouble, organizations like the Chamber can certainly help.”

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