How Hollyburn Country Club showed the link between wealth and healthcare inequality

The rich should not be cutting ahead of those in priority for the vaccine

(Unsplash/ Steven Cornfield)

It has been over a year since the start of COVID-19 and vaccines for the virus are finally being given to more and more people in Canada, signalling that the end of the worst part of the pandemic is near.

However, some are a lot more eager to return to some sense of normalcy than others. Even if it means having to cut ahead of other people in dire need to be protected from the virus that has plagued the world for a year and counting.

The Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver is a private sports facility and club that is open to some of the wealthier citizens in British Columbia. To join, a high entrance fee of $60,000 plus $3,000 in GST is required to be paid, as well as a $12,000 deposit for new membership applicants, among other costs.

In an email obtained by CBC News, it was discovered that Hollyburn originally had plans to hold a pop-up clinic with Indigo Pharmacy in April to give an AstraZeneca vaccine dose to club members born anytime between 1956 to 1981.

The pop-up clinic was soon cancelled by the provincial government, stating that the country club’s plans were unacceptable.

It’s understandable that everyone would love to return to normal as soon as possible after reading about what happened. If the club had offered to work together with the province to be an additional location to have people vaccinated, circumstances might have played out differently.

As the province is still slowly getting as many people vaccinated as it can, restricting doses to an exclusive group of people who can afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars to be part of a club only adds frustration to many individuals. Members of the country club were going to get easier, faster, and exclusive access to the vaccine, which is something that clearly rubbed people the wrong way.

The fact that they already have easier access to private healthcare than the average person made things worse.

Ed McLaughlin, CEO of the Hollyburn Country Club, has defended this action, saying that the vaccines were intended to be for the front-line staff of the club.

But shortly after the government intervened and the story went public, six board members of the Hollyburn Country Club resigned from their positions, although it’s up to speculation if this was related to the controversy.

Club members and others were split on reactions. Some have called for the removal of McLaughlin from the CEO position. Others have come to the defence of McLaughlin and the club, saying the decision was made with good intentions.

Mary-Ann Booth, the mayor of West Vancouver, has cancelled her membership to the country club in response. She also said it is unacceptable and encouraged everyone to register through the province’s vaccination program, tweeting, “I encourage everyone to register to be vaccinated through Provincially-approved channels.”

Overall, no matter a person’s standing financially, everyone should be treated the same and should go through the same process of getting vaccinated.

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