Multiple attempts to get faked COVID-19 vaccine proof in Quebec: sources
MONTREAL -- Several sources have confirmed to The Canadian Press that multiple people have attempted to fraudulently obtain proof of COVID-19 vaccination, sometimes by trying to bribe members of the health staff.
This comes after Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced that proof of vaccination would be required as of Sept. 1 to engage in certain activities or frequent various public places.
In an incident recounted to The Canadian Press by an employee of the health network who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, a man recently went to a vaccination centre in the east end of Montreal and asked to be inoculated in a private booth available to people nervous about the vaccine.
He then allegedly offered the nurse a bag containing several hundred dollars in cash, on condition that she throw the vaccine in the garbage and give him a faked proof of vaccination.
When the nurse refused and called security, the man fled.
The health ministry confirmed by e-mail that it is aware of the situation, but admits it is impossible to measure the real extent of the phenomenon.
"To date, we have not received any confirmation from our public safety partners of the involvement of a network employee," the email states.
When asked if this means that suspected employees will undergo investigation, the ministry passed the ball to the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal.
Spokesperson Carl Thériault confirmed by e-mail that "there was a recent attempt at corruption in one of our vaccination sites."
He declined to comment further "so as not to interfere with the ongoing police investigation."
A spokesperson for the CIUSSS East Montreal confirms "there have been a few recent attempts at fraud in our vaccination sites" and "our employees have been made aware of this issue and are very vigilant."
Employees have reportedly been warned that the ministry can detect if they issue a faked proof of vaccine, even if it takes place outside of work hours or outside the vaccination centres.
They have been told that serious penalties up to and including disbarment are possible for violations, the anonymous source said.
Health Minister Christian Dube did not comment on any specific case but did issue a warning to any Quebecers who try to cheat the system.
The ministry insists that "there are tight controls" within the department to prevent the fraudulent or inappropriate issuances of vaccine proof.
An awareness campaign is also underway to help staff identify and prevent fraud or corruption, it adds.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Aug. 13, 2021.