Ontario’s top doctor cancels weekly COVID-19 briefing amid vaccine passport deliberations

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has cancelled his weekly briefing amid lingering discussions by the provincial cabinet over the possible implementation of some sort of COVID-19 vaccine passport system.

A spokesperson for Ontario Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott issued a statement Tuesday afternoon nearly two hours before Dr. Kieran Moore was scheduled to provide his regular Tuesday afternoon update on the provincial COVID-19 response as well as a general overview of the pandemic.

The statement said it was cancelled at Moore’s request due to “the government’s ongoing work on a proof of vaccination certificate.”

A government source not authorized to speak publicly told Global News on Friday that members of Ford’s cabinet were considering a proposal.

Read more: Ontario cabinet debating implementation of provincial COVID-19 vaccine ‘passport’

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The source said a final decision hadn’t been made and that there was no consensus yet. At the time, they said some cabinet members were opposed to a vaccine passport.

Those who Global News spoke with indicated an announcement could have been made as soon as Tuesday. However, as of Tuesday afternoon, there wasn’t a firm indication of when details would be shared with the public.

Premier Doug Ford previously and repeatedly said he did not want to make vaccines mandatory, citing human rights violations. Both he and cabinet ministers have punted the issue to the federal government.

However, Ford hasn’t had a public media availability in the Greater Toronto Area in several weeks in order for reporters to ask questions surrounding the status of such an initiative.

Read more: Ontario NDP to introduce bill seeking creation of ‘safety zones’ to combat COVID-19 harassment

During a news conference Tuesday morning calling for the creation of “public health safety zones” to combat organized protests over COVID-19 vaccines and protocols, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath once again pushed the government to release details on a passport program.

“Well I guess we could have a conversation if anybody can find [Ford], but nobody can find the guy,” she said when asked if the party heard from the government on her proposal or vaccine passports.

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“So hopefully he gets in here soon and starts acting like a premier and putting in place the things Ontarians need to avoid what everybody is saying is going to be a pretty brutal fall … all of the predictions are this fourth wave is going to be pretty ugly.”

There have been mounting calls by local medical officers across Ontario for a provincewide COVID-19 vaccine certificate system when it comes to providing proof of inoculation to employers, for events or to gain entrance inside non-essential businesses.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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