Ontario will unveil COVID-19 vaccine passport system next week, source confirms

TORONTO — The Doug Ford government will unveil a COVID-19 vaccine passport system next week, a senior government source confirms.

The source told CTV News Toronto the certificate will be required in non-essential settings, like restaurants and movie theatres.

Ford will meet with this cabinet next week to finalize the plan, the source said.

The introduction of a vaccine certificate system would mark a significant reversal for Ford, who previously rejected the idea, saying he doesn’t want to create a “split society.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Health reiterated that sentiment this week, denying that the province was working on a vaccine certificate program.

The update comes just hours after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Ford to “step up” when it comes to vaccine certificates.

In response to Trudeau’s comments on Friday, the premier’s office released a statement claiming that Ontario has “the most comprehensive, far-ranging mandatory vaccination policies for high-risk settings in the country.”

The statement did not include any reference to vaccine certificates.

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

Trudeau’s comments echoed those of Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who on Thursday, put forward a vaccine policy mandating that all City of Mississauga staff and volunteers get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 31.

“That’s the kind of local leadership to see us through this crisis,” Trudeau said.

Crombie has also called on the province to implement a standardized proof of vaccination approach, instead of businesses and organizations independently setting forth their own rules.

“I think we need a universal and uniform proof of vaccination that can be applied right across the province, not region to region,” she said on Thursday.

Eastern Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health said on Thursday that provincial health units will implement their own vaccine certificate in September if the Ontario government doesn’t create one by then.

Quebec and British Columbia have introduced proof of vaccination programs, set to bar anyone who is not fully vaccinated from non-essential activities, such as restaurants and sporting events.

To support provinces introducing proof of vaccination programs, Trudeau said he would dedicate $1-billion to their development and rollout.

“These measures are going to make a real difference,” Trudeau said. “They’re going to encourage those who hesitate to finally do the right thing to get these certifications.”

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca issued a statement Friday afternoon saying he is “delighted” to hear Ford is considering a vaccine passport.

“I have been calling for this for more than a month alongside a wide coalition of partners and stakeholders,” Del Duca said. “It is the right thing to do to keep Ontario families safe during the fourth wave and I will continue to urge Doug Ford to make it happen as soon as possible.”

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello 

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