Provinces differ on COVID-19 vaccine passports as some sectors begin to require proof of vaccination – .

Provinces differ on COVID-19 vaccine passports as some sectors begin to require proof of vaccination – .

Passengers arrive at London’s Heathrow Airport in January 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday he would work with provinces on an international vaccination passport, but leave national decisions to provincial governments .

Matt Dunham/The Associated Press

Ontario is the latest province to reject the idea of ​​a national passport for the COVID-19 vaccine while other provinces support such a document, forcing some institutions and businesses to set their own rules.

Seneca College in Toronto will require students and faculty to be fully immunized in order to be invited to return to campus in the fall, becoming the first post-secondary institution in Canada to make in-person attendance conditional on full immunization.

Jason Kenney says Alberta will not bring COVID-19 vaccine passports

Different provinces are now taking different approaches to vaccination, creating another hurdle in Canada’s response to the pandemic which has seen provinces institute conflicting rules and restrictions. Manitoba has been issuing proof of immunization cards to residents since June, allowing residents to bypass the province’s interprovincial quarantine travel rules and granting them more visiting rights in hospitals and long-term care homes . Quebec announced last week that it would use vaccine passports starting in September, but only in communities or non-essential areas with epidemics, such as gyms, bars and spectator events. If cases in the province remain low, passports will not be required.

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Alberta and Saskatchewan, however, rejected the idea of ​​a vaccine passport, citing privacy laws, and BC Premier John Horgan and health worker Provincial Bonnie Henry both said they did not support such passports to access services.

Internationally, France has seen an increase in vaccine appointments after making vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers by September and mandating special COVID-19 passes for fully vaccinated people or those who test negative to be able to go to restaurants, shopping malls and cultural events.

The Toronto Region Board of Trade on Tuesday called on the Ontario government to introduce a vaccine passport system for non-essential businesses, arguing it should be used as a tool to keep businesses open if cases start to rise. .

But Ontario’s top doctor said the province will not be implementing its own passport system just yet. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said the current adult immunization rate of 79% for one dose and 57% for two doses is “remarkable”, although he has expressed concern of the Delta variant. Dr Moore added he would like to see vaccination rates rise even more, as the province expects COVID-19 cases to increase in September as cold weather arrives and indoor activities resume. The province has set a bar of 80% for the first doses and 75% for the second doses to lift the remaining restrictions.

“An Ontario passport was not considered by this government,” said Dr. Moore. “This government’s vision has been to have the highest possible vaccination rate through non-mandatory means… I don’t think it’s necessary at this point given that Ontarians are showing up and getting vaccinated at a rapid pace. also high.

Carly Luis, communications director for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, said the government “has made it clear that the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory for Ontarians, but we strongly suggest that people seize this opportunity ”. Luis said Ontarians have the option to download or print an electronic COVID-19 vaccine receipt through the provincial portal “if proof of vaccination is required in a certain context.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday he would work with the provinces on an international vaccination passport, but leave national decisions to provincial governments.

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“Different provinces will do different things. Where the federal government has a role to play and where we are looking is in terms of certification of vaccines for international travel, ”said Trudeau, appearing at a virtual event alongside the Prime Minister of the United States. Nova Scotia, Iain Rankin, announcing agreement on affordable child care.

“Certainly the federal government will work with the provinces to ensure that there is internationally accepted proof of vaccination that will allow Canadians to travel freely for years to come.”

Maxwell Smith, bioethicist and assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Western Ontario who sits on the provincial vaccine distribution working group, called a provincial vaccine pass a “blunt instrument” that could not work in all contexts.

He pointed to Israel, which implemented a “green pass” policy at the start of the pandemic, but has already stopped using it, with some suggesting there was no evidence it worked.

He said, however, that it might be useful for the government to be tougher on these passports for post-secondary institutions. “It would be great if the Ministry of Colleges and Universities were the one to implement these things that apply to all institutions in this category… at least to have some consistency in those institutions.

Seneca College, with 90,000 students on campuses in Toronto, York Region and Peterborough, Ont., Follows in the footsteps of many elite universities in the United States, as well as education systems New York and California public, which require students to receive both doses of the vaccine for in-person learning. In Canada, while several schools in Ontario require students to be vaccinated to live in residence, none other than Seneca has announced plans to make vaccinations mandatory to attend classes in person.

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“This pandemic is not over and we want to protect our students and staff… it’s that simple,” Seneca College President David Agnew said, adding that the college expects 10,000 students attend classes in person in the fall semester. “Now, with the vaccines generally available, this is the right, logical and consistent thing to do. “

With reports from Les Perreaux in Montreal and Mike Hager in Vancouver

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