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29 Mar, 2019 11:21

Canadian province probes why it funded ‘anti-vaccination group’ for over a decade

A Vancouver-based advocacy group is under scrutiny by provincial officials after a report emerged claiming that it has been receiving taxpayer money despite promoting an anti-vaccination agenda. It denies being against vaccines.

The charity group Health Action Network Society received about a third of its revenue last year from British Columbia’s government last year, CBC reported citing federal records. It has been receiving grants from the provincial government for at least 12 years, which amount to a hefty sum of Can$428,500 ($320,000) since 2007.

The money was spent on activities, including “screening anti-vaccination movies, sharing content from anti-vaccination websites and complaining about ‘censorship’ from a social media company that blocked anti-vaccination propaganda,” the report said.

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Following the report, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said he was looking into the group’s financing.

“What I try and do is not make this a debate [with] a very small group of people who are opposed to immunization, but to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get immunized so we can raise the levels for everybody,” he said.

HANS rejected the accusation, saying its “advocacy for informed consent and vaccination safety” is not “in alignment with ‘anti-vaccination’ propaganda.” The CBC story, the group seemingly implied, was “irresponsible reporting” that may have been motivated by the public broadcaster receiving “corporate funding”.

The group also published an open letter to CBC ombudsperson Jack Nagler, raising concerns about the broadcaster’s “attacks on homeopathy and other natural health modalities”. Homeopathy is a practice based on belief that a remedy causing particular symptoms in a healthy person may be used to treat a disease with the same symptoms and also may be diluted infinitely while retaining healing properties. It has been conclusively proven wrong by scientific studies, but the irony of the two statements being placed next to each other on HANS website seems to have been lost on it.


The World Health Organization calls a decrease in immunization rates, caused by the spread of anti-vaccine sentiment, one of the major threats to public health. Preventable diseases like measles are seeing a comeback in developed nations while local governments are considering measures like mandatory vaccination or banning unvaccinated children from public places during outbreaks to alleviate the crisis.

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Anti-vaccination activists believe that the danger of vaccines is understated by the governments and health professionals, who are in cahoots with producers to ensure contained flow of private and public money to Big Pharma. It’s not like the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t have a record of maximizing profit through morally questionable means while lobbying its interest with the proceeds. So, the sentiment is not difficult to understand.

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