Ontario cabinet debating implementation of provincial COVID-19 vaccine ‘passport’

Click to play video: 'Local medical officers of health call on Ontario government for vaccine passport'
Local medical officers of health call on Ontario government for vaccine passport
WATCH ABOVE: Local medical officers of health call on Ontario government for vaccine passport. Caryn Lieberman explains – Aug 26, 2021

Sources tell Global News that Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet are debating the implementation of a COVID-19 vaccine “passport” type of certification for Ontario, after months of resisting calls to create such a system.

A government source not authorized to speak publicly told Global News on Friday that members of Ford’s cabinet are currently considering a proposal.

The source said a final decision hasn’t been made and that there is no consensus yet. They said some cabinet members are opposed to a vaccine passport.

The development came after another source told Global News the program, if ultimately approved, could be announced as soon as the week of Aug. 30.

Ford has previously said he did not want to make vaccines mandatory, citing human rights violations. Both he and cabinet ministers repeatedly punted the issue to the federal government.

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However, there have been mounting calls by local medical officers across Ontario for a province-wide COVID-19 vaccine certificate system when it comes to providing proof of vaccination to employers, for events or to gain entrance inside non-essential businesses.

Several local medical officers, including Dr. Lawrence Loh with Peel Public Health, have re-iterated numerous times that an accessible and universal system to verify vaccination status is needed.

“[The local medical officers] were unanimously, I would say, in agreement that a provincial solution is desirable for consistency and for application,” Loh said. “And I think many of the medical officers of health certainly view a time-limited vaccine certificate as an opportunity for us to get through this turbulent period.”

Other provinces such as British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec have announced plans to implement or have already implemented a COVID-19 passport or certification record that can be used in those individual provinces.

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Quebec has developed an app called “VaxiCode” that is available to its residents to upload their vaccine status for many non-essential services that require proof of vaccination.

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Earlier on Friday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau called out Ford at a campaign stop in Mississauga for not having a proof of vaccination system for Ontario after promising $1 billion for provinces who implement one.

“Already, Premier Horgan and Premier Legault have stepped up and I certainly hope that here in Ontario, Premier Ford steps up as well,” Trudeau said.

“It’s time for him to listen to public health officials and leaders like [Mississauga Mayor] Bonnie Crombie,” he continued. “We’ll be ready when he does.”

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