Toronto Mayor John Tory says he welcomes the government of Canada’s move to provide Canadians with proof of vaccination — and he says based on advice he has received from medical officials, a similar framework in Ontario will be the “best thing we can do right now” to help businesses, workplaces and even sports teams navigate reopening.
“A province-wide proof of vaccination system will help encourage more people to get vaccinated and will help us continue our progress reopening and recovering from COVID-19,” Tory said in a statement.
So far in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has rejected adding vaccination certificates and mandating immunizations in workplaces.
Last week, Quebec confirmed it will require proof of immunization if people want to get access to some non-essential services. In Manitoba, a new mobile app will allow vaccinated residents to request and show their immunization card.
Opposition pressuring Ford
The opposition parties in Ontario have called on Ford to bring in an Ontario vaccine certificate program.
“His choice to do nothing is harmful to public health, hurts our economic recovery and is a confusing burden for people and local businesses,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath.
“The millions of Ontarians who did the right thing and got a vaccine deserve a certificate program that will help us return to normal life.”
Taras Natyshak, the NDP critic for job creation and economic recovery, says certificates will help small business reopen safely.
“Asking every individual business to design a different system for themselves with no provincial guidance is a mess, and it’s already been a horrible burden for people and businesses,” said Natyshak.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, echoed similar sentiments on Twitter.
The Ontario Medical Association, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario and the Ontario Long-term Care Association have all publicly called for mandatory vaccines for health and education workers in the province.
Business groups such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Toronto Region Board of Trade have also called for a vaccine certificate system as a way to avoid a fourth-wave lockdown.
Ford has said he doesn’t want to create a “split society,” and Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday requiring proof of vaccination is up to individual businesses.
Federal plan to be released this fall
The federal government’s plan involves proof-of-vaccination documentation for international travel that will be available by early fall.
Ottawa hopes to work with the provinces — which hold the data on vaccinations — to develop consistent credentials. The government is also working with other countries to ensure the documents will be recognized abroad.
In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford said his government will “work with the federal government to make this happen and provide any necessary information in a safe and secure manner.”
The certification issued to Canadians would include data on the type of vaccines received, dates and location.
The National Airlines Council of Canada expressed support for the plan, urging all levels of governments to work together to meet the fall release date.
“Proof of vaccination is going to be a critical component of international travel and recovery of the travel and tourism sector,” said Mike McNaney, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada in a statement.
In response to the federal plan, Tory said he has been “supportive from the beginning of some form of digital proof of vaccination being provided to everyone.”
Mandatory vaccines for growing number of workplaces
More post-secondary institutions across Ontario, including the University of Toronto and Western University, are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for those who will be physically on campus this fall.
Tory said the City of Toronto is finalizing its plans for its own employees when it comes to vaccinations with more details on that plan coming next week.
“I have made it clear to city officials that any plans should be clear, should be focused on protecting employees and any members of the public they interact with from COVID-19, and ultimately encourage any employees who aren’t vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”