“Absent that, what you have are people being held hostage,” House Speaker Perrin Beatty said in an interview before the province announced the new system to curb the spread of Covid. -19.
He noted that 80% of Canadians over the age of 12 have already demonstrated a willingness to get vaccinated, but that’s too few to achieve herd immunity.
“The private sector, like all Canadians, is diverse – but one thing the private sector is very united in is that we cannot afford to go into more general lockdowns.”
Quebec announced last week that it would require Quebecers starting in September to show proof of vaccination in order to access non-essential services in areas of the province with high Covid-19 transmission.
Premier Francois Legault said the province appeared to be entering a fourth wave of rising infections and that he did not plan to return to shutdowns.
Not all provinces agree: Ontario Premier Doug Ford reiterated Thursday that the province has no plans to introduce a “vaccine passport” system allowing access to certain activities, and the Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also rejected the concept.
Raising the 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 from 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 that want to ensure visitors meet their vaccination requirements. Paper documents can easily be forged, so machine-readable documents that meet globally accepted standards are needed, Beatty noted.
Last month, the Toronto Region Chamber of Commerce called on the Ontario government to introduce a vaccine passport system for non-essential business activities.
CEO Jan De Silva said it was a personal decision to get vaccinated, but access to big events and indoor dining requires moral responsibility. Small businesses cannot afford another lockdown, she said.
Digital certification would also help assure employees and customers that it’s safe to return to work or visit places of business, Beatty said, with rapid testing to complement it.
He said vaccine passports are no different from the Nexus Pass, a voluntary system that allows Canadian and American travelers to cross the border more quickly.
A recent Leger poll found that 58% of Canadians and 37% of Americans support mandating passport vaccinations for all essential and non-essential activities.
And nearly 78% of member companies surveyed by the Montreal Chamber of Commerce support the use of a vaccine passport, indicated the president of the group.
“It is a clear signal from the private sector that they see the vaccine passport as a tool that must be used. And of course, according to them, it’s because we don’t want to have to shut down the economy again,” said board chairman Michel Leblanc.
The group has been studying the issue for months, but Leblanc said the benefits of passports crystallized in the Stanley Cup Finals, when Montreal Canadiens fans were limited in numbers at 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 was among those who urged the government of Quebec to set up a passport system.
France is adopting a vaccine passport system and New York City plans to require people to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination before they can dine indoors at restaurants, see shows or go to gyms. The system will be implemented gradually over several weeks in August and September.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he supported Quebec’s decision to introduce a passport system, although he said each province should decide for itself.
The federal government is reportedly working on secure vaccination certification for international travelers.
While Canada’s big business lobbies are pushing for change, many industry groups are in the early stages of exploring the issue.
“We’re quite capable of gathering intelligence at this point,” 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 in promoting vaccine acceptance.”
Allen added that there are deep concerns about how civil liberties could be restricted by passport vaccine requirements and how the passport system would work, whether it would be accepted around the world and how it would work. would be managed.
Using vaccine passports could be useful in some circumstances, but not in retail which is far less discretionary and scheduled, and appeals to families with children under 12 who currently cannot be vaccinated, said the Retail Council of Canada.
The group’s concern with vaccine passports is very similar to masking rules.
“It would be very difficult for companies to be the vaccine police, just as it was very difficult for them to be the masking police at the time,” spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen said.