City of Toronto Taps Vaccine Hunters Canada to Help Get People Vaccinated

The city of Toronto has announced a partnership with Vaccine Hunters Canada, an online org of volunteers who help track down available vaccine appointments.

Vaccine Clinic in Scarborough, Ontario

Image via Getty/Steve Russell/Toronto Star

Vaccine Clinic in Scarborough, Ontario

The city of Toronto has announced an official partnership with Vaccine Hunters Canada, an online organization of volunteers who help track down available COVID-19 vaccine appointments and spread the information via social media. 

While the move will no doubt help more Canadians receive their shots—inarguably the most important takeaway here—it has also raised some concerns about the public health system’s capacity to manage the distribution and the city’s willingness to accept crucial assistance from unpaid volunteers. 

The city announced the partnership on Wednesday, encouraging the public to immediately start using the tool and saying it is now working directly with the site’s management to keep info about city-run immunization clinics up to date.  

#CityofTO partners with @VaxHuntersCan to help residents quickly find available vaccine appointments at City-run clinics. News release:

— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) April 28, 2021

“Our Team Toronto vaccination efforts involves the City and Toronto Public Health, hospitals, community healthcare partners, community organizations, pharmacies and doctors. This is a huge, all hands-on deck effort and Vaccine Hunters Canada have stepped up to help people get vaccinated and navigate the different registration systems,” said Mayor John Tory in a City press release. “We are excited to work with Vaccine Hunters to help get more people vaccinated.”

For some, however, Toronto’s official acceptance of assistance from a volunteer-run organization in this historic public health battle was too ironic not to comment on. 

The work the people at VaxHunters is just that - work. Some might say essential work, the kind that should be done by public health authorities and PAID FOR. Pay people for their work for goddess sake.

— Jen Cypher, PhD (@JenCypher) April 28, 2021

A group of volunteers made registration systems more accessible when the city couldn’t even though the city has infrastructure + resources. This is great but doesn’t make it more accessible for essential workers. We need 24/7 pop up clinics for essential workers + their families.

— Fernanda Yanchapaxi (@mfyanchapaxi) April 28, 2021

Sorry, exactly what are my taxes paying for when a volunteer-run twitter account and discord chat is doing a better job than salaried employees of the city and province? Pay them.

— jen no ❗ (@jeeznomad) April 28, 2021

people have legitimate questions about why the team are not getting paid for their labor when the branches of government using their work are all union shops. These need answers. We need transparency over this deal and we need to know people involved with it don’t have conflicts

— Legendary demi-hottie Li’l 🌳 (@karengeier) April 28, 2021

The driving forces behind Vaccine Hunters Canada, however, remain apolitical. 

“We are honoured to be joining the city of Toronto’s efforts to get the city vaccinated,” said Joshua Kalpin, Vaccine Hunters Canada spokesperson. “Our motto is ‘neighbours helping neighbours, coast to coast’ and [we] are grateful to the tens of thousands of Canadians who have contributed to this campaign. We feel an urgent sense of duty to work together so we can protect the most vulnerable and rebuild our communities.”

For the best chance at finding an available immunization appointment in Toronto, follow @VanHuntersCan on Twitter. Or, as of Wednesday, you can follow @CityofToronto too. 

Latest in Life