Trudeau unveils Canada’s international proof-of-vaccination for COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Trudeau announces Canada’s proof-of-vaccination program for COVID-19'
Trudeau announces Canada’s proof-of-vaccination program for COVID-19
WATCH: Trudeau announces Canada's proof-of-vaccination program for COVID-19 – Oct 21, 2021

Canada is launching a standard federal proof of COVID-19 vaccination system, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Thursday.

The vaccine passport will show your name, date of birth, and COVID-19 vaccine history — including which doses you got, and when you got them.

“I’m happy to confirm that all provinces and territories have confirmed that they will be moving forward with a standardized national proof of vaccination,” Trudeau said, speaking to reporters.

He added that Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and all three territories have put this national standard into use.

Click to play video: 'Canada lifts blanket travel advisory on non-essential travel'
Canada lifts blanket travel advisory on non-essential travel

That’s because the new national standard uses the provincial vaccine certificate as its framework. If you’ve already downloaded that provincial proof of vaccination document and it has the federal seal of approval in the top right corner, the government says you should be all set.

Story continues below advertisement

“You can download it into your phone, you can print it out, you can ask for a copy by mail if you don’t have those capacities, but you are now able to show proofs of vaccination immediately in all those provinces, and all other provinces have agreed and are working hard to come online,” he said.

The vaccine passport will have a common look and feel across the country, according to officials, including a “Canada” wordmark in the top corner.

Canadians will be able to use the proof of vaccination system both within Canada and for international travel, the officials said.

While the Canadian government’s webpage about the passport system reminds Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel,” should you choose to, this certificate should be uploaded into the ArriveCAN app for your return to Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

However, “this proof does not guarantee you entry to another country,” the webpage reads.

“Before you travel, you must check the rules of your destination country and the countries you transit through,” it explains.

“Provinces and territories may also ask you to use this proof to access non-essential services.”

If you’ve already downloaded the proof of vaccination certificate with the “Canada” wordmark on the top right corner and your vaccination status hasn’t changed, you won’t need to download anything new, according to the website.

Regardless, Canadians should “be sure to bring a digital and paper copy with you when you travel.”

Officials said the proof of vaccination system also complies with the SMART Health Card standard, which uses technology that will allow officials to verify and authenticate the information without giving access to any other health or identity information.

The system is also supposed to be tamper-proof, the officials added, as it detects any changes to the document after it has been issued.

Click to play video: 'Federal government unveils standardized COVID-19 vaccine passport for international travel'
Federal government unveils standardized COVID-19 vaccine passport for international travel

The government worked “very closely” with airlines to ensure the certificate will also be “seamless” to verify, Trudeau said.

Story continues below advertisement

“It will be a step, for the vast majority of people, at the virtual check-in where they simply have to scan their QR code, and they will get a boarding pass that is clearly marked upon it ‘vaccination approved’ So there is no actual slowdown,” he said.

“It’s a single extra step on check in, in a digital way, but it will not be overly onerous for anyone in the process.

He added that when airline employees check the name and the gate number on the boarding pass, there will also be a “green check mark or whatever it is” that will tell them the vaccination requirements have been met.

Canadians who are travelling will have to show ID alongside their proof of vaccination certificate, according to the government’s website.

“Your name and date of birth will be checked against your other ID, such as your passport or status card,” it said.

“Your proof of vaccination and your passport or status card are separate documents and are not digitally connected. Your Canadian passport or status card does not contain vaccination information.”

Whether businesses choose to request ID alongside the vaccine certificates is up to them and the provinces where they’re located, according to Alexander Cohen, the press secretary for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

Story continues below advertisement

“That’s entirely up to either the provinces or the individual business…because our role in this is creating something for international (use),” Cohen said.

Cohen added that he doesn’t foresee Canadian travellers running into any issues using these certificates on the global stage.

“We expect that it’s going to be accepted by all countries,” he said.

“Right now, every country that is accepting generally for travelers or visitors is accepting all proof of vaccination.”

Reaction rolls in to certificate rollout

Both industry and public health voices are applauding this latest step in vaccine certification. Beth Potter, who is the President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said the proof of vaccination system is “really good.”

“You’re not going to have to juggle,” Potter said.

Story continues below advertisement

“You know that you’ve got your vaccine certification, proof from whatever province or territory in Canada, and you can use it whenever you travel. And I think that’s fantastic.”

The one thing Potter was worried about seeing was a patchwork of systems across the country, she said.

“Not every business owner around the world may know where New Brunswick is or where the Yukon is,” she said.

“But they do know Canada, and so having that unifier, I think it’s incredibly important.”

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick premier says proof-of-vaccination QR system on track to come mid-November'
New Brunswick premier says proof-of-vaccination QR system on track to come mid-November

A public health expert also agreed that the latest vaccine certification development is a welcome one. Julia Zarb, who is a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said the new certificate is “helpful.”

Story continues below advertisement

“It standardizes a template, a recognizable look and feel,” she said.

“There is a logo on it that is consistent across the board.”

While the certificate isn’t available in every single province just yet, Zarb said things are headed in the right direction.

“We need to get standardization, but it’s not something that will happen overnight, and anybody who’s worked in technology for a long time can tell you it’s never happened overnight, and we’ve had a lot of bumps and bruises trying to go down the road of thinking it might,” Zarb explained.

“So, I guess, be patient.”

Potter said she’s hopeful that the implementation of this national system will be smooth.

“It’s free and it’s simple to use. So we’re hoping that this will be a relatively painless move,” she said.

“You know, as long as the vaccine is required, we wanted to make sure that the system that was put in place was one that is simple to understand, simple to use, but not onerous on the business owners and on the business employees.”

Story continues below advertisement

As for Canadians considering travel, Potter said she hopes this will give them that extra push.

“It’s getting safer to travel all the time, and proof of vaccination certification is another tool in everyone’s toolbox that they can use to feel confident that they can travel safely,” she said.

“We encourage Canadians to really start thinking about that next trip, whether it’s for leisure or for business travel, and to get back out there and explore our great country.”

— With files from Global News’ Crystal Oag

Sponsored content