The Surrey Board of Trade is calling for a “centralized, Canada-wide approach” to be used to confirm COVID-19 vaccination status internationally and domestically.
In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan, board CEO Anita Huberman writes that without interprovincial harmonization, Canada risks making life unpredictable for individuals and employers during an “already uncertain time.”
“Implementing proof-of-immunization would both encourage more Canadians to get vaccinated and allow more businesses to safely reopen and remain open with the possibility of future outbreaks still uncertain,” Huberman said in a release on Monday.
“Public health restrictions, such as capacity limits, could then be modified accordingly based on the lower risk involved with close contact among fully vaccinated individuals. Encouraging people to get vaccinated will reduce possible impacts to mutations.”
Proof of vaccination in private businesses has been controversial.
Businesses have raised concerns about how they would enforce getting someone to prove they’ve gotten vaccinated, and the province has said repeatedly there will be no proof needed for public services.
Currently, the province is advising those who have not been fully immunized to wear masks indoors, while those who have had both shots are not required to do so. The challenge is there is no tool to publicly determine who has or has not been vaccinated.
“Certainly, there are equity, security, privacy, and human right considerations, but as a short-term solution, there is a way to implement some type of proof-of-immunization strategy,” Huberman said.
“The current risks stem from the unvaccinated and the potential for them to generate more variations (mutations) of the current viruses.”
So far, 80.6 per cent of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose vaccine, and 61.3 per cent have received their second dose.
Manitoba uses proof-of-immunization cards or digital QR codes to confer additional benefits to card holders and accelerate reopening of facilities and major events that remain heavily restricted.
In the letter, the board of trade uses the example of requiring proof upon entry at large event venues and arena concerts or expanding visitation capacity at long-term care homes and hospitals.
“To protect individual privacy, the QR code and card only show the person’s name and vaccination status when scanned,” it suggested.