The Canadian business community seems to largely support the decision of the Government of Quebec to impose the first vaccination passport system in the country.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says vaccine passports or digital vaccination certificates would help prevent future waves of the pandemic from forcing a resurgence of financially dire lockdowns by allowing people at low risk to participate in events, move around freely and go about their daily business.
“Without it what you have are people being held hostage,” Speaker of the House Perrin Beatty said in an interview before the province announced the new system to curb the spread of COVID-19 .
He noted that 80 percent of Canadians over the age of 12 have already expressed their desire to be vaccinated, but that’s too low to get herd immunity.
âThe private sector, like Canadians as a whole, is diverse – but one thing the private sector is very united in is that we cannot afford to get into more general blockages. “
Quebec announced last week that it would require Quebeckers starting in September to present proof of vaccination in order to access non-essential services in areas of the province where COVID-19 transmission is high.
Premier FranÃ§ois Legault said the province appeared to be entering a fourth wave of growing infections and that he had no plans to return to lockdowns.
Not all provinces agree: Ontario Premier Doug Ford reiterated Thursday that the province does not plan to introduce a “vaccine passport” system allowing access to certain activities, and the Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also dismissed the concept.
The increased vaccination rate would be ideal, Beatty said, but the certificates could also help protect people’s health without inflicting major social and economic damage on the country of the Delta variant and other potential variants.
Beatty said the chamber’s goal is to prevent mass blockages by controlling the risks posed by the Delta and other potential variants.
He said digital certificates would also be essential for international travel to provide proof of status to other countries wishing to ensure visitors meet their vaccination requirements. Paper documents could easily be forged, so machine-readable documents are necessary and meet globally accepted standards, Beatty noted.
“I’m fully vaccinated. But if I attended a concert, I would feel a lot more comfortable knowing that the people I was stuck with were themselves vaccinated.”
Last month, the Toronto Region Board of Trade called on the Ontario government to introduce a vaccine passport system for non-essential business activities.
CEO Jan De Silva said getting the shot is a personal decision, but accessing major events and dining in halls requires moral responsibility. Small businesses can’t afford another foreclosure, she said.
Digital certification would also help assure employees and customers that it is safe to return to work or visit places of business, Beatty said, with rapid testing to complement it.
He said passports for vaccines are no different from the Nexus Pass, a voluntary system that allows Canadian and American travelers to cross the border faster.
A recent LÃ©ger poll found that 58% of Canadians and 37% of Americans support the imposition of a vaccination passport for all essential and non-essential activities.
And nearly 78 percent of member companies surveyed by the Montreal Chamber of Commerce support the use of a vaccine passport, says the group’s president.
“It’s a clear signal from the private sector that they see the vaccine passport as a tool that should be used. And of course, in their opinion, it’s because you don’t want to have to shut down the economy again. “said the chairman of the board. Michel Leblanc.
The group has been studying the issue for months, but Leblanc said passport benefits crystallized in the Stanley Cup final, when Montreal Canadiens fans were limited in numbers in home games as the Tampa Bay Lightning arena was full.
Passports could help ensure that people attending sporting events, cinemas, bars or places that draw large crowds are fully vaccinated, he said.
The chamber of commerce is among those urging the Quebec government to set up a passport system.
France adopts passport system for vaccines and New York City plans to require people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they can dine inside at restaurants, see shows or go in gyms. The system will be implemented gradually over several weeks in August and September.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he supports Quebec’s decision to introduce a passport system, although he said each province must decide for itself.
The federal government is reportedly working on a secure vaccination certification for international travelers.
As Canada’s corporate lobbies push for change, many industry groups are in the early stages of studying the issue.
âWe are quite in a position to gather information at this point,â said Denise Allen, head of Food Processors of Canada.
“We are careful to observe that the increase in Delta variants clearly requires us to remain vigilant on promoting vaccine acceptance.”
Allen added that there are deep concerns about how civil liberties might be curtailed by passport vaccination requirements and how the passport system would work, whether it would be accepted worldwide and how it would be managed. .
The use of vaccine passports can be useful in certain circumstances, but not in the retail setting, which is much less discretionary and scheduled and attracts families with children under 12 who currently cannot be vaccinated, according to the Retail Council of Canada.
The group’s concern about vaccine passports is very similar to the masking rules.
“It would be very difficult for companies to be the vaccine police, just as it was very difficult at the time to be the mask police,” spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen said.
Locally, the president of the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce supports the Canadian Chamber’s call to implement a passport or certification in Ontario.
President Ian McLean said on Twitter that this “has to happen”, noting that it can be used as a tool to help businesses and the economy reopen safely and stay open.
And he noted that something like this is not unheard of, indicating that children are getting vaccinated against diseases such as mumps, rubella and measles.
âThey’re very highly transmissible,â he said, âand the way we’ve been able to overcome them is basically through vaccinations and being able to check who got those vaccinations.â
McLean said yes, there are people who are medically exempt from getting vaccinated, but the point is, we have to achieve a certain level of herd immunity.
âBusinesses have a responsibility to their employees, to their customers, and to themselves and their families, to keep people safe,â he said.
“The debate is closed, the vaccines are very effective and frankly, this is the only way for us to really get over it.”
McLean said it would be much easier to have a consistent message across the board with an immunization passport than to ask companies and institutions to develop their own immunization policies.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 8, 2021.
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press