Province refuses vaccine passport, so Ontario Chamber of Commerce steps in to provide advice


Published August 24, 2021 at 3:33 pm

Ontario’s chamber of commerce released a framework Tuesday for private sector businesses seeking to develop COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination protocols, a move it said aimed to provide support in the absence of government guidance.

The organization, which represents more than 150 chambers of commerce and boards of trade in the province, said implementing proof-of-vaccination would help businesses safely reopen and mitigate the risk of further lockdowns.

“In the absence of government guidance on domestic applicability, we hope these principles can avoid a piecemeal approach in the province,” Rocco Rossi, the organization’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“We have already seen a number of businesses, organizations, associations, unions, and post-secondary institutions implement their own proof-of-vaccination policies. With this framework, private sector businesses can implement similar programs with shared confidence.”

The guidance issued by the chamber of commerce lays out five principles for businesses as they establish their own systems, including using the least intrusive manner possible in checking vaccination status and providing accommodation based on human rights concerns.

Several public sector organizations have announced recently that they would require proof of vaccination from employees.

There have also been calls from a number of associations, unions and advocacy groups to implement a province-wide vaccine certification system, particularly in light of the highly contagious Delta variant that’s driving a fourth wave of infections.

Meanwhile, the scientific director of the province’s pandemic science advisory group, has said vaccine certificates would keep high-risk, unvaccinated, people out of high-transmission settings such as restaurants, bars and gyms.

Premier Doug Ford has so far refused to bring in a province-wide vaccine certificate system.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott noted Tuesday that the province provides proof-of-vaccination receipts for residents after they get their first and second doses, and said vaccine passports planned by the federal government for international travel could be used domestically by businesses.

The latest provincial data shows slightly more than 82 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 12 have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and just over 75 per cent have received two. The province’s top doctor has noted that vaccine uptake has slowed and daily infections are rising once more.

Other provinces have announced plans for proof-of-vaccination systems.

On Monday, British Columbia said its residents will need a vaccine card to get into restaurants, clubs, ticketed sporting events and organized gatherings like weddings.

Quebec, meanwhile, will be requiring proof of both vaccine doses starting Sept. 1 to access non-essential services such as bars and restaurants.

By Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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