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Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate program will apply to condos that opt-in

Click to play video: 'Condo gyms and theatres not included in Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate program' Condo gyms and theatres not included in Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate program
WATCH ABOVE: For the tens of thousands of people who live in condos and apartments, questions remain about why they were left off the provincial government's vaccine certificate program. – Sep 3, 2021

When Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination certificate rules go into place on Sept. 22, gyms and theatres frequented by the general public will fall under screening requirements. However, thousands of similar facilities within condo and apartment buildings will not.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has given the buildings the green light to opt into the program if they wish. However, with condos not considered public settings or facilities, a ministry spokesperson said there won’t be a mandate to follow Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate rules — something others noted will pose challenges.

Already, the omission has prompted condo boards and property managers to jump into action. Some condo owners told Global News they have received letters from representatives for their buildings regarding new policies that were either premature or erroneous.

Read more: Ontario government to require COVID-19 vaccine certificates for many indoor public settings

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The property managers at Matt Johnston’s Canary Park condo sent him a letter regarding its upcoming policy. He said he wasn’t surprised by the letter, but added he was annoyed about having to submit more paperwork.

“Just submitting the paperwork and figuring that out, it just creates more work for us,” said Johnston.

“I’m a little confused why buildings need to come out with their own policies like businesses when it should be the provincial Ford government that’s beating the drum and getting everyone to follow along.”

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Arif Noorani’s midtown Toronto condo also indicated it will follow the province’s leads for its common areas.

“I actually think the whole city should go this way. I think that’s the only way to get this pandemic under control,” he said.

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“It doesn’t prevent you from your own apartment, using the elevator.”

But his neighbour, William Brown, said he is doubtful his condo board will follow through with the email.

“During the entire pandemic, (I’ve seen) people not wearing masks in the building and get reported and nothing gets done,” said Brown.

Read more: Here’s what COVID-19 vaccine certificate programs across Canada look like

Property management companies like Dan Fried’s are beginning to test the waters for what’s to come. His company, CI Group, manages around 50 buildings in the Ottawa area. After experiences earlier in the pandemic, Fried said he is expecting a turbulent time ahead.

“I anticipate a very rocky road on this one,” he said.

Fried said CI Group has been working on the direction from condo boards, but the decision to opt-in will have to be made building by building. He said he expects they will make their decisions based on the types of amenities and populations of each condo.

“We got a lot of blowback when gyms were closed in the condos and amenities were closed at the beginning,” said Fried.

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“There’s definitely a handful of people in every building that don’t believe it, don’t want to follow it.”

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Condo lawyer Jason Rivait with Miller Thompson LLP said condo boards should take a measured approach. He noted condo boards often have to balance communal rights versus those of individuals. By ensuring rules apply to shared areas, they could be on a better legal footing.

“A rule that is limited in scope has a much higher likelihood of being deemed enforceable,” he said.

“Rather than a rule that applies carte blanche to the whole community, the whole property indoors and outdoors.”

Read more: Why is Ontario developing its own vaccine passport app?

Rivait said buildings may face an additional challenge —  it takes 30 days for rules to come into effect and often, many don’t want to wait.

Much like retail or personal care locations, which were also left out of the province’s vaccination certificate mandate, the Ontario Ministry of Health warned those who own and operate those establishments to check their legal footing before opting in.

“These condos may wish to consult their legal counsel if they are considering such a measure,” spokesperson David Jensen wrote in an email.

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