Former NDP advanced education minister questions why unvaccinated students should get free COVID-19 tests

Dr. Tom Perry outlined his concerns in a letter to Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang

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      Dr. Tom Perry has a deep understanding of the ways in which the provincial taxpayers subsidize postsecondary education.

      That's because from 1991 to 1993, Perry was the minister of advanced education in an NDP government led by then premier Mike Harcourt.

      This morning, Perry wrote a letter to Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang saying he cannot understand why students unwilling to be immunized should be provided with subsidized tuition and free COVID-19 tests at public expense.

      Perry's letter came in the wake of the Research Universities' Council of B.C. saying it was working toward a rapid-testing regime for students not vaccinated against the virus.

      "I am finding the Government’s policies on Covid19 increasingly difficult to understand," Perry wrote in his letter, which was copied to Health Minister Adrian Dix and Attorney General David Eby.

      "We have an effective vaccine which may lose effectiveness as the virus continues to mutate," Perry continued. "Why allow ignorant people who don’t care about the pandemic effects on others to benefit from public services[?]"

      Later in the letter, he wrote: "Time to expect more from students/staff/faculty - everyone needs to play their part in protecting us all."

      According to UBC budget documents, tuition and student fees accounted for 32 percent of the university's overall revenues last year.

      On August 18, the BC COVID-19 Modelling Group predicted a sharp rise in hospitalizations and visits to the intensive-care units due to the Delta variant.
      BC COVID-19 Modelling Group

      Meanwhile, the Confederation of University Faculty Assocations of B.C. welcomed the recent announcement about rapid-testing alternatives for all campus community members.

      “We welcomed the return of mask mandates announced by the Provincial Health Office this week and we now have the rest of the pieces in place to move forward with developing health and safety measures across the entire campus community,” CUFA B.C. president Daniel Laitsch said in a news release issued this morning.

      One thing is clear: Dr. Bonnie Henry's August 24 announcement that students in classes won't need to be vaccinated has not gone over well with some faculty members.

      The tweets below indicate that some are prepared to teach from home as long as the highly contagious Delta variant continues spreading at an alarming rate.