After more than a year of restrictive lockdowns, Liberal Health Minister Patty Hajdu was unable to reassure Canadians that vaccinated seniors could finally hug their loved ones.

“Can a Canadian senior who is suffering the negative mental health impacts of isolation who has received their vaccine give their grandchild a hug?” asked Conservative MP and health critic Michelle Rempel Garner during Monday’s question period in the House of Commons. 

“I’m not sure if the member opposite realizes this but many of the situations that she references are in fact at the purview of the provincial and territorial governments,” said Hajdu. 

“In fact, it’s the provinces and territories that with support from the federal government develop guidance to be used in all of our jurisdictions and it’s in fact the provinces and territories and indeed local leaders that decide which measures need to be in place to protect citizens. I’ll tell you this, our government believes in following science and evidence, including public health leaders and will continue to do that.” 

The pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns are having a devastating impact on the mental health of Canadians. Canadians from across the country are reporting record high levels of anxiety and depression as health restrictions continue to mount.

Social isolation and working from home have proven to have a negative impact on Canadians as guidelines restricting movement stay in place, becoming the leading cause of mental stress.

Critics have accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government of botching Canada’s vaccination effort after the country experienced some delays and confusion regarding promised vaccine shipments. 

This week, Canada is expected to begin receiving 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and another 846,000 of the Moderna vaccine. 

Earlier this month, Trudeau falsely accused the Conservative Party of denying the existence of the pandemic and advocating against mask-use when confronted by Rempel Garner on his government’s vaccine rollout. 

A True North fact check of the statement found that Conservative politicians in Canada were expressing concerns about a possible pandemic nearly two months before the World Health Organization declared it and were advocating mask use as early as January 2020. 

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