After repeatedly spurning the notion of a system that would force people in Ontario to show proof-of-vaccination for access to some non-essential services, such as gyms and bars, Premier Doug Ford appears to have once again changed his tune to match public opinion: Provincial vaccine passports are happening.
The GTHA Mayors and Chairs confirmed in a statement on Monday afternoon that “the province is developing a proof of vaccination program,” noting that we can “look forward to hearing more details very soon.”
Unnamed sources at Queen’s Park have been saying the same thing to journalists since late last week, most-recently telling Toronto’s 680 NEWS that plans for a provincewide vaccine certificate program will be announced on Tuesday.
A “senior government source” told CTV News on Friday that, while details were still being hashed out, Ontario’s passport system would require customers to show a proof-of-vaccination document before entering restaurants and movie theatres, among other settings.
STATEMENT: GTHA Mayors and Chairs look forward to details of provincial proof of vaccination program pic.twitter.com/JWvYoF9zwR
— John Tory (@JohnTory) August 30, 2021
The premier has been under increasing pressure from business owners, public health official, and other levels of government to implement some kind of provincial vaccine certificate program.
Ford has remained steadfast in his position for weeks, however, that vaccine passports would create a “split society” where the vaccinated and unvaccinated lived their lives by different sets of rules (which, it should be noted, they already do in a lot of ways).
With vaccination rates stalling and case numbers rising amid a confirmed fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the premier may finally have been convinced to reconsider his stance.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau might have hastened the process by calling upon Ford to “step up” and “listen to public health officials” already during a campaign stop in Mississauga on Friday.
Trudeau highlighted on Friday how effective even the announcements of forthcoming passport programs have been in getting vaccination rates up in B.C. and Quebec, which both have their own vaccine certificate programs launching in September.
As of today, Aug. 30, Ontario’s Ministry of Health is reporting that 83 per cent of all residents over the age of 12 have now recieved one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly 76 per cent have now recieved two.
“Ontario has put forward the most cautious reopening plan, which includes some of the highest vaccination thresholds, maintaining masking in public indoor spaces, as well as capacity limits and distancing requirements, and releasing the most comprehensive, far-ranging mandatory vaccination policies for high-risk settings in the country,” said a spokesperson for the premier in a statement responding to Trudeau’s comments.
“As Dr. Moore has already said, we will continue to monitor the trajectory and status of the Delta variant and respond accordingly.”