Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has announced that Canada is implementing a COVID-19 vaccine passport for its citizens to facilitate international travel. This makes it the latest in a long line of countries to adopt such a measure, following the launch of the EU Digital COVID Certificate for all 27 member States of the European Union on July 1st.
“We are working actively with the provinces and territories on a secure, pan-Canadian proof of vaccination for international travel,” Mendicino said. The standardized pass will be available to all fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents of Canada.
He also confirmed that the Canada vaccine passport “very likely will be digital, it will involve a code, it will be standardized so that when Canadians are travelling abroad there will be a hallmark that readily identifies travelers are from Canada”.
It will allow holders to easily present their proof of vaccination, as well as the date they got their jab, the type of vaccine they received, and the location where it was administered.
Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc has suggested that the passport will be launched “early this fall” once the digital system has been linked to vaccination data from all provinces and territories. “We just need to have the secure, safe way to access the data in order to produce this proof of vaccine credential”, he said.
He also confirmed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has discussed this process with regional authorities and that they have been “extraordinarily encouraging and positive”.
Canada Vaccine Passport May Also Be Implemented for Domestic Use
Leblanc has also suggested that the vaccine passport could be used as proof of vaccination domestically, similar to the COVID-19 pass implemented by France, which must be presented to gain access to public transportation and bars and restaurants. “If the provinces wish to work with us in order to use our federal credentials within their province, we would be happy to work with them”, he said.
Some Canadian provinces have already developed their own individual vaccine passports, including Quebec, which will launch its COVID pass on September 1st.
However, the Health Minister for the province, Christian Dubé, has said that the passport will only be used for access to non-essential services such as bars and restaurants, gyms, and concerts, and would not be enforced for access to retail stores. Nevertheless, he confirmed that discussions are still underway whether it would be necessary for entry to large gatherings such as weddings and religious services.
Prime Minister Trudeau was initially hesitant about domestic use of vaccine passports within Canada, sharing his opinion that the measure could have “real divisive impacts” for Canadians. However, he later said that the decision ultimately fell on provincial leaders, stating “different provinces will be doing different things”.
Provinces Divided on Use of Vaccine Passport Within Canada
A growing number of Canadian businesses are calling for the government to allow the countywide vaccine passport to be used by low-risk individuals to participate in events and move freely within the provinces. However, not all provincial leaders are convinced by this potential use of the COVID pass.
A spokesperson for Quebec’s health ministry said that “is no need for us to use the federal passport, which will rather serve for international recognition”. However, they noted that the province is completely open to cooperating with the federal government on the implementation of the wider digital system.
Nevertheless, other provinces have been more open to the idea, including British Columbia.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has said that the federal vaccine passport for Canada would be fully accepted throughout the province, confirming that “we’re working with them, we support them in that, and they support us”.
Regardless of whether it will be implemented for domestic use, Canadians will be able to use the COVID-19 vaccine passport to more easily gain entry into a number of foreign territories and forgo certain restrictions such as the need to quarantine on arrival.
Nevertheless, they should verify the visa requirements for their destination before departure to check whether they need to have any additional documents such as a negative test result in addition to proof of vaccination.