Ontario Premier Doug Ford is not impressed with “scammers” using fake medical cards to get out of wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The premier was asked about cards after photos of them circulated through social media. The fraudulent identification is designed to look like it comes from legitimate medical institutions, featuring a Canadian flag, medical care seal and a traditional symbol for doctors. Some even use the Red Cross logo.
“It’s unfortunate that people are using their logos,” said Ford during his Wednesday COVID-19 briefing. “I understand that they’re going to possibly be taking action.”
The Canadian Red Cross has listed “mask exemption cards” on their website on a list of misinformation associated with the humanitarian organization, adding that it is not at all involved in issuing medical mask exemption cards.
The cards also display the number for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, but the commission told CTV News that it “has not and would not produce posters or cards claiming that the cardholder has an exemption from wearing a face mask in closed public places.”
“This isn’t the time to put up fraudulent cards to get away and be able to go into a store,” said Ford. “Just be responsible, don’t be a scammer.”
Various Candian cities and the province of Quebechave started to roll out mandatory mask bylaws as provinces begin reopening many indoor businesses. Toronto’s mandatory bylaw came into effect July 7 and requires people to wear masks in any indoor setting. Quebec enacted province-wide mask regulations that require face coverings on public transit and indoor commercial spaces. Businesses hold the right to legally refuse service to anyone who refuses to wear a mask and can tell customers to put on a mask or either shop elsewhere.
As mask-wearing becomes more regulated, some groups have been pushing back. In Toronto, anti-mask protesters took public transit without covering their face.
While Canadian health officials aren’t on the same page about the total effectiveness of wearing masks, the World Health Organization hasn’t ruled out that the novel coronavirus can be spread through airborne transmission. So masks present themselves as an effective, cheap solution to prevent the spread of the disease, preventing the spread of respiratory particles between people.
The fake medical cards aren’t just making their way around Canada. In the United States, where a barrage of videos has come out showing customers at restaurants and grocery stores refusing to wear masks, the fake cards have also circulated.
“It’s unacceptable in my opinion,” said Ford. “Everyone else is wearing a mask when you go into stores — wear a mask.”