Ontario opposition parties are calling for the province’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate system to be expanded to more settings.
The system took effect Wednesday and means that people looking to access many indoor (and some outdoor) settings across the province will have to show proof of full vaccination along with a piece of government-issued identification in order to be allowed to enter.
Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios), gyms, meeting and event spaces, nightclubs (including outdoor areas), sporting events, and gaming establishments are among the facilities covered under the new rules.
But the province’s opposition parties said the vaccine certificate system should go further.
In an NDP statement released Wednesday, leader Andrea Horwath said those who are vaccinated “earned the right” to be at the mall or a church “without having to worry about whether the person beside us is unvaccinated.”
“For the safety of our families and our progress in the fight against COVID-19, let’s fix the vaccine certificate program,” Horwath said.
“Doug Ford’s version is full of holes big enough for COVID to pour through — let’s close them.”
The NDP statement also noted that unvaccinated individuals can still be in places that require proof of vaccination, to work a shift or make a purchase. The NDP also noted that proof of vaccination is not required for non-essential retail settings.
Last week, the Ontario Liberal Party released a statement in which they also called for stronger vaccination policies.
The statement called for, among other things, vaccines to be mandated for passengers and operators on provincially-regulated trains, as well as for all employees in workplaces where customers are required to be vaccinated.
On Wednesday, Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner raised concerns around what he called “loopholes” in the vaccine certificate program.
“I’m also concerned that Ford’s vaccine certificate is not nearly comprehensive enough and is full of inconsistencies, exceptions and loopholes. For example, leaving salons and barber shops off the list does not make sense,” he said.
“They cannot afford to close again so we need to ensure we’re doing everything possible to help them stay open.”
Global News asked the provincial government for a comment on the opposition party statements.
“The settings were chosen based on the advice of the chief medical officer of health,” Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott, said.
“The policy applies to indoor settings where masks aren’t always worn and the risk of transmission is higher.”