The increasing COVID-19 case counts, the threat of the Delta variant, and the difficulty getting the last 25-30 per cent of the province fully vaccinated is prompting people to push the Government of Ontario to implement a certification program for people who have received their vaccines, aka: a so-called “vaccine passport.” One of the latest people adding their support to that idea is none other than Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner.
“As we head into a potential fourth wave, we need to do everything we can to protect Ontarians, prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed, and avoid further lockdowns,” said Schreiner in a statement. “That’s why I have called for mandatory vaccines for education and healthcare workers.”
According to the Green Party leader, pursuing what he calls a “vaccine certification” program would protect children under 12 who are still unable to get a vaccine, and will safeguard small businesses in the province by preventing another lockdown. “Vaccine certificates are a tool that can help us avoid the worst of it, work towards a safe reopening that gets small businesses back on their feet and keeps Ontario on a path to recovery,” Schreiner added.
So far, Quebec and Nova Scotia are the only provinces in Canada to implement a vaccine passport, or vaccine certification, program. In recent days, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Toronto Region Board have all, in some way, endorsed the idea of a vaccine passport, but today, the Minister of Health refused to reconsider Premier Doug Ford’s past reticence on the matter.
“There’s a mixture of views on that particular subject and we are not mandating vaccines for anyone, although we strongly encourage people to take the vaccine,” Christine Elliott said at an announcement in Collingwood on Tuesday.
There were 301 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario on Tuesday, and there are now nearly 2,500 active cases in the province. According to the COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, 81.7 per cent of Ontarians 12 years old and over have received one dose of a vaccine while 72.5 per have been fully vaccinated.
At his own press availability on Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said that the growing rate of infections does not mean we’re heading into the kind of danger we’re seeing in some states south of the border, but he did note that unvaccinated people are eight times more likely to get sick than people who’ve been vaccinated.
“It is never too late to be immunized,” Moore said.
On that front, Schreiner said the Province needs it easier for the last 20-30 per cent of the population to start or complete their vaccine regimen by removing barriers to access for those that can’t find the time, and those that can’t shake the grip of misinformation.
“I urge the Ford government to break down barriers by providing paid time off to travel to and receive a vaccine and paid time off to recover from side effects,” Schreiner said. “They need to go door-to-door in high-risk neighborhoods, launch a mass awareness campaign to tackle vaccine hesitancy, use family doctors to advise on and administer vaccines, and run more clinics in workplaces and schools.”
“Experts are warning that a fourth wave is starting and it is largely being driven by the unvaccinated,” he added. “We must make it as convenient and accessible as possible to get a vaccine in Ontario.”