Liberals promise $1B fund for provinces to develop vaccine passports, takes aim at Ontario premier

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took aim at conservative premiers Friday, dangling $1 billion for provinces that choose to implement vaccine passport systems and a direct call for Ontario Premier Doug Ford to take the offer.

“If your premier mandates that everyone in your local restaurant or gym or other non-essential locations must be fully vaccinated and show proof, we’ll pay for the development and rollout of that program,” Trudeau said, during a campaign stop at a restaurant in Mississauga, Ont.

Trudeau has previously said Ottawa will enforce vaccinations for federal civil servants and federally regulated industries like airlines and banks.

Read more: Trudeau doubles down on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for domestic travel

Only Quebec and British Columbia have moved on vaccine passports at a provincial level, with Quebec implementing them next week and B.C. in mid-September.

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Manitoba is expected to announce details on a vaccine passport there shortly.

Trudeau thanked B.C. Premier John Horgan and Quebec Premier Francois Legault for their plans, but called out Ford for refusing passports so far.

“Already, Premier Horgan and Premier Legault have stepped up,” Trudeau said. “I certainly hope that here in Ontario, Premier Ford steps up, too. It’s time for him to listen to public health officials.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. businesses vow to defy government vaccine passport rules' B.C. businesses vow to defy government vaccine passport rules

B.C. businesses vow to defy government vaccine passport rules

Local medical officers of health in Ontario say they’re considering regional vaccine certificates in the face of Ford’s refusal to implement a provincewide proof-of-vaccination system.

Trudeau has largely avoided campaigning against Ford so far in this election, after the 2019 election was spent focused heavily on the premier of Canada’s most populous province.

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Ford’s office has also stayed out of the federal election this time.

But polls have suggested the race both nationally and in Ontario is tightening between the Liberals and Conservatives, and strategists said the 2019 strategy to go after Ford heavily in Ontario helped the Liberals federally.

The vaccine funding would be on a per-capita basis and only if provinces back their systems with “an enforceable mandate” to show proof of full vaccination for visiting non-essential businesses.

Trudeau is also promising a re-elected Liberal government would put $100 million toward researching the long-term effects of COVID-19.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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