Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau today announced a billion-dollar fund to help provinces create their own vaccine passports — credentials people vaccinated against COVID-19 can show to businesses to make everyday activities safer.
Speaking to reporters at a campaign stop in Mississauga, Ontario, Mr. Trudeau said he wants to see “Canadians moving again in a safe and responsible way.” He said the best way to do that is to create a tool the vaccinated can use to prove they’ve had their shots before entering a store, arena or office.
If a province requires that everyone at a local restaurant, gym or other non-essential business location be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination, Mr. Trudeau said, Ottawa would pay for the development and the rollout of that program.
“It keeps people safe. It encourages everyone to do the right thing. It keeps our businesses open and it keeps our economy rebuilding,” he said.
Some provinces, notably B.C. and Quebec, already have created smartphone-based vaccine passports that people can use to prove their COVID-19 immunization status in commercial or public spaces — everything from bars and restaurants to bowling alleys and hockey rinks — where provincial law will soon require proof of a shot before entry. Manitoba is also expected to make its passport system mandatory for some nonessential businesses in the coming weeks.
But in two of the country’s largest provinces — Alberta and Ontario — provincial leaders have refused to implement such a system.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said a vaccine passport would lead to a “split society” and claims the paper receipts people receive at vaccine clinics are sufficient proof of status. In the absence of a provincewide vaccine mandate for some venues in Ontario, private businesses and universities have stepped into the void by creating their own vaccine verification programs.
In Alberta — where COVID-19 case numbers are high and vaccination numbers comparatively low — government officials have been insisting that a proof-of-vaccination program is a non-starter.
The federal government has long promised its own vaccine passport-style program for international travel but Canadians are still waiting.
At a press conference before the election, the government said work is underway on a smartphone app and it could be available sometime this fall. Other countries have had this sort of regime in place for months. Ottawa has explained away the delay by pointing to the provinces, which control vaccination records.
Ontario May Announce a Form of Vaccine Passport
Ontario may announce a form of proof-of-vaccine certification — commonly known as a “vaccine passport” — for the province, sources tell CBC News. The plan is expected to be revealed early next week.
Sources with knowledge of the plan spoke on condition of confidentiality because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
The implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine passport will be discussed at a cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday. Sources say that while some cabinet members are opposed to a vaccine passport, the program will go ahead.
Pressure has mounted on Premier Doug Ford’s government in recent weeks to institute some sort of vaccine passport as the province navigates a fourth wave of the pandemic driven by the delta variant.
Many local medical officers of health, as well as mayors of some of Ontario’s biggest cities and independent medical experts, have publicly joined the chorus, saying a clear, effective provincewide system is needed to avoid confusion and curb the current wave.
Quebec and B.C. already have created smartphone-based vaccine passports that people can use to prove their COVID-19 immunization status in commercial or public spaces — everything from bars and restaurants to bowling alleys and hockey rinks — where provincial law will soon require proof of a shot before entry.
Manitoba has also announced plans for a vaccine mandate that will restrict restaurants, fitness centres, theatres and ticketed sporting events to people who show proof of vaccination.
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