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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Here is what each province has to say about vaccine passports

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OTTAWA — With the Delta variant potentially fuelling the start of a fourth wave of COVID-19 in Canada, the question remains how the provincial and federal governments will handle dealing with vaccinated and unvaccinated Canadians.

Several provinces have already issued some form of vaccine passport or certificate, while others are waiting for a federal vaccine passport, and still other provinces have ruled out the idea entirely.

On Thursday, Quebec announced it was moving forward with a vaccine passport that will allow vaccinated Quebecers to visit non-essential businesses.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that conversations surrounding a federal vaccine passport for international travel “are active and ongoing” but has not committed to a timeline.

Not all provincial and territorial governments have said definitively whether they support a vaccine passport. Here are where some of them stand:

BRITISH COLUMBIA

In speaking to reporters on Thursday, British Columbia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Bonnie Henry said “anything is on the table” when it comes to the possibility of bringing vaccine passports to the province.

“What we have said is we will not be denying people essential services based on their vaccination status,” Henry said during the news conference.

“I’ve also said very clearly that there are some services where people who work in those industries — we think of health-care as an essential public service — that we need to make sure we are protecting health-care workers.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix has also suggested there may be consequences for those who choose not to vaccinate, while stopping short of suggesting a vaccine passport is coming.

ALBERTA

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in July that the province won’t issue vaccine passports.

“We’ve been very clear from the beginning that we will not facilitate or accept vaccine passports,” Kenney said during a Calgary Stampede photo-op on July 12.

“I believe they would in principle contravene the Health Information Act and also possibly the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan is working on a form of vaccine passports designed to assist in international travel, but Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has stated that such documentation will not be required to go to work or attend events. 

MANITOBA

In June, Manitoba launched its proof-of-vaccination card, issued to any fully immunized Manitoban with a provincial health card. 

The certificates allow residents to skip the mandatory quarantine when returning to the province from international travel and helps with those wishing to visit a loved one in long-term care.

The passports are also used for access to sporting events, restaurants, bars, and any business that wants to see vaccine proof before entry.

ONTARIO

Last month, Ontario Premier Doug Ford ruled out the possibility of a vaccine passport for the province.

“The answer is no, we’re not going to do it,” he told reporters on July 15. “We’re not going have a split society.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory has called for a provincial vaccine passport system, as has the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

QUEBEC

On Aug. 5, Quebec announced it was moving forward with a vaccine passport due to rising COVID-19 cases in the province.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said the passport will be used “in order [for] people who made the effort to be vaccinated, that they are able to come back to a normal life.”

The province has always stated that essential services will still be available to everyone, though restaurants and other non-essential services may be limited to the vaccinated population.

NEW BRUNSWICK

New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said in July that the province has no plans to bring in a vaccine passport.

“I think that we can do without a vaccine passport on a domestic level,” she said.

New Brunswickers travelling to a destination – in Canada or elsewhere – can use the paper proof of vaccination they received when they were inoculated or have access to an online record.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Prince Edward Island has instituted a “PEI Pass,” which is similar to vaccine passport, except is only for people travelling to the province and people from P.E.I. who are returning from another province.

Travellers are eligible for a PEI Pass if they have one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or are fully vaccinated, depending on where they’re from.

People in possession of a PEI Pass will be exempt from isolating when entering the province.

NUNAVUT

The Government of Nunavut has said that any vaccine passports would happen at the federal level.

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