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Toronto board of trade calls for vaccine passports for non-essential activities

Last Updated Jul 13, 2021 at 4:44 pm EDT

Jan De Silva, CEO of the board, says vaccine passports are the only way to safely reopen larger events like business conferences and will help revive tourism. Blake Guidry

TORONTO – The Toronto Region Board of Trade is calling on the Ontario government to introduce a vaccine passport system for non-essential business activity.

Quebec has signalled it will require vaccine passports for non-essential activities by September and Manitoba is issuing vaccine cards to fully immunized people.

Jan De Silva, CEO of the board, says vaccine passports are the only way to safely reopen larger events like business conferences and will help revive tourism.

“The EU as of July 1st has gone live with the digital pass, and the reason why we’re so pro using that tool is that we’ve worked so hard and our small businesses have gone through multiple lockdowns that have had a devastating effect to them,” said De Silva.

“Now that we’ve got sufficient vaccine, it’s a way to start resuming a more normal form of day-to-day living.”

She said it’s a personal decision to get vaccinated, but accessing major events and indoor dining requires moral responsibility.

The board of trade says it is having discussions with the Ontario premier’s office about introducing a vaccine passport system.

She said a digital proof-of-vaccinations system could look similar to one implemented in Europe and some Asian countries, where people’s information is protected and anonymized, but can easily be displayed on a phone.

Not all provinces are cozy to the idea. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health dismissed the notion of a vaccine passport on Tuesday.

“A passport for within Ontario has not been contemplated by this government,” said Dr. Kieran Moore.

“The vision of this government has been to have the highest immunization rate possible through non-mandatory means.”

“…I don’t think it’s [a vaccine passport] necessary at this point,” Moore added.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said the province will not be issuing vaccine passports.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that decisions around domestic vaccine passports will be up to the provinces.

“Different provinces will be doing different things,” said Trudeau, who appeared virtually at a news conference in Nova Scotia Tuesday.

“The provinces will be making determinations… We have seen Quebec, for example, move forward with an internal vaccine passport. Alberta has announced that it will not be doing that. Different provinces will be doing different things. Where the federal government has a role to play, where we are looking, is in terms of vaccine certification for international travel.”

He said the federal government’s responsibility lies in standardizing proof-of-vaccination for international travel.

“In terms of domestic reflections (of vaccine passports) that’s something the provinces themselves will establish as what is right for them,” said the prime minister.

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