After weeks of excuses – from saying that they didn’t want to create a two-tiered system, to saying that a piece of paper easily copied in Microsoft Word was fine as proof – there’s news Friday night that the Government of Ontario might be changing their minds on vaccine certificates. Sources are telling multiple media outlets that so-called vaccine passports are on the cabinet agenda next week, and not a moment too soon.
Global News was the first to report that government sources were telling them that vaccine certificates will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, and an announcement on their implementation could even come that same day. No decision has yet to be made, and cabinet has reportedly started reviewing the details, but Global’s sources say that some members of cabinet are opposed to the idea.
The issue though may be out of the hands of Premier Doug Ford and his government. For the last month, groups like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Toronto Region Board of Trade have all advocated for a vaccine certification program. The heat was turned up this week when Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said that he was exploring a vaccine certification for the people in his area.
“In the short-term, vaccine certificates can help reduce transmission and limit risks for those who are unvaccinated in settings where precautions cannot be maintained persistently,” Loh explained.
Reaction to Friday’s breaking news promoted a mixed response from opposition leaders.
“I’m delighted to read media reports suggesting Doug Ford is seriously considering a vaccine certificate for Ontario. I have been calling for this for more than a month alongside a wide coalition of partners and stakeholders,” said Liberal leader Steven Del Duca. “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.”
“Doug Ford needs to stop governing by delays, teasers and half measures and needs to get to work on implementing measures that will protect Ontarians from the fourth wave. This is an announcement that should have come weeks ago, but Ford was nowhere to be seen,” said Green Party leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner.
“Other provinces are well on their way to releasing vaccine certificates to protect residents and help small businesses stay open. But Doug Ford once again has Ontario playing catch up,” Schreiner added. “It’s time to put the politics and ideology aside and listen to public health experts on the best way to implement a vaccine certificate that is accessible, secure and effective.”
The news comes at what seems like the 11th hour as the number of new daily COVID cases continue to increase. On Friday, there were 781 new cases of COVID, which is the highest number of new daily cases we’ve seen since the first week of June. Of the 781 new cases, 634 of them are in people who are not vaccinated, partially vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown, while there are 158 cases in the province’s ICUS with 87 patients on ventilators.