The Ontario NDP is supporting vaccine certificates, popularily known as passports — and says that the stubborn rise in COVID cases shows that a certificate program can’t wait.
“Doug Ford must follow the advice of the Science Table and bring in an Ontario Vaccine Certificate program," said leader Andrea Horwath.."His choice to do nothing is harmful to public health, hurts our economic recovery, and is a confusing burden for people and local businesses.
“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.”
Premier Doug Ford has rebuffed calls from medical, political and business groups to implement a vaccine certificate system for non-essential activities, saying he doesn’t want a “split society.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says vaccine passports or digital vaccination certificates would help to prevent future waves of the pandemic from forcing a resurgence of financially disastrous lockdowns by enabling those with low risk to participate in events, move freely and go about their daily lives.
"Absent that, what you have is people being held hostage," Chamber president Perrin Beatty said in an interview.
Taras Natyshak, the NDP critic for Job Creation and Economic Recovery, said small businesses need certificates to keep them safe and operating.
“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. “Local businesses have been through enough — now Ford is asking them each to create a system on their own to try to keep COVID at bay and keep themselves, their workers and their customers safe. Ford’s showing again that he’s no friend to small businesses and working folks, and that he just doesn’t want to invest in public health.”
NDP Health critic France Gélinas said certificates are critical to keeping people healthy.
“The government has to do more to help every eligible Ontarian overcome systemic barriers and get vaccinated, and to take measures now to stop the spread,” said Gélinas.
“Designing a vaccine certificate program comes with some challenges, but Doug Ford’s choice to do nothing presents big problems for public health and conquering COVID-19. Certificates are one of the temporary public health measures we need to end this nightmare.”
Quebec recently announced that it would implement its own passport system.
But Ford is unmoved. "I think it's our constitutional right to take it or not take it," he said of vaccines against the virus. "I've been out here for months, begging, pleading (for) everyone to get it, but no one should be forced to do anything."
He added that it's up to private companies to come up with their own employee vaccination policies.
With files from Canadian Press