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N.B. MLAs question productiveness of mandatory vaccine hearings

MLAs question productiveness of mandatory vaccine hearings
WATCH: Some lawmakers are left feeling the three-day hearings on proposed mandatory vaccinations was not as productive as it should have been. Silas Brown explains.

New Brunswick’s government house leader is raising questions over just how productive the three-day law amendments committee hearing on a proposed mandatory vaccine bill has been.

“The work that we’ve done on this committee has gone way beyond the scope of Bill 39 so I would say that a lot of what we’ve gone over here doesn’t do a lot to improve our position on where we need to be on Bill 39,” Glen Savoie said.

READ MORE: Anti-vaccination group to challenge New Brunswick mandatory immunization bill

A packed schedule has featured many witnesses who have questioned the science of vaccines, rather than concerns about the specific bill, often using the entirety of their half hour time slots leaving little to no time for committee members to question the information being read into the public record.

Frequent outbursts of applause also prompted warnings from committee chair Andrea Anderson-Mason, even saying Wednesday that she would be forced to clear the chamber should it continue.

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Green Party committee member Megan Mitton said she remains undecided on the bill. Throughout the week, Mitton has repeatedly said that she is approaching the bill from a public health standpoint, but that perspective has often been buried among disputes over the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

“I think we need to take different information that’s presented with a grain of salt and look at where this information is coming from,” she said.

“Some of the more useful information has come from [Chief Medical Officer of Health] Dr. Russell and my interest has really been to hear from public health professionals like Dr. Russell.”

WATCH: Anti-vaccine groups vow to fight New Brunswick’s new vaccine regulations

Anti-vaccine groups vow to fight New Brunswick’s new vaccine regulations
Anti-vaccine groups vow to fight New Brunswick’s new vaccine regulations

Cathy Rogers, a Liberal committee member, says she also remains undecided, but that it has been useful to hear differing perspectives over the last couple days.

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“That’s what you do at a hearing, you listen,” she said. “You listen to the various perspectives of medical practitioners, health professionals, of lived experience, they all inform scientific research.”

READ MORE: Anti-vaccination group to challenge New Brunswick mandatory immunization bill

Rogers did agree that debates have often veered from the bill itself, which concerns mandates rather than the science of vaccines.

“A lot of the discussions have been on the safety and efficacy of vaccines but I do want to remind everyone that this is about bill 39 which is about should mandates be mandatory,” she said.