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Trudeau promises $1B vaccine passport fund to provinces, territories

Last Updated Sep 8, 2021 at 11:16 am PDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on during a childcare funding announcement in Montreal, Thursday, August 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Trudeau says he will set up a $1-billion fund to help vaccine passport programs if Liberals form government

Very few provinces have chosen to implement mandatory vaccine cards

Trudeau says vaccine cards help keep people safe and keep the economy moving

MISSISSAUGA (NEWS 1130) — A big financial incentive is being promised to the provinces and territories which decide to bring in COVID-19 vaccine passports.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says, if re-elected, a $1-billion fund would be set up for proof-of-vaccination systems.

“A vaccine mandate for non-essential businesses is a good idea. It keeps people safe, it encourages everyone to do the right thing, it keeps our businesses open, and keeps our economy moving,” Trudeau said.

So far, only three provinces have introduced a vaccine passport system.

This week, B.C. followed Quebec to make vaccines mandatory to enter certain settings, starting in mid-September. B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the move was in response to rising COVID-19 cases in the province. It will limit non-essential settings like concerts, movie theatres, gyms, and restaurants to vaccinated people only. The passport will be required for out-of-province visitors as well.

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Quebec’s vaccine passport requirement is set to begin in just days but is already seeing some security concerns. Quebec’s health department says it’s aware of reports of stolen personal information obtained through QR codes, the central feature of the government’s vaccine passport system. Police are investigating.

Manitoba also brought in a vaccine passport which requires certain businesses to check for immunization status.

Both Ontario and Alberta have said they are not planning to follow suit.

“Wherever you are across the country, if your premier mandates that everyone in your local restaurant or gym or non-essential locations must be fully vaccinated and show proof, we’ll pay for the development and rollout of that program,” Trudeau announced Friday.

In his comments, the Liberal leader also mentioned Ontario Premier Doug Ford specifically, saying he should “step up” and enforce a proof-of-vaccination policy.

In response, Ford’s office says the provincial government will continue to observe the emerging Delta variant and its severity.

“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,” wrote spokesperson Ivana Yelich.

COVID-19 cases rising

Since late July, daily case counts have climbed nationally, largely blamed on more infectious variants. Health Canada says the latest national seven-day average jumped by 29 per cent over the previous week, and hospitalizations have spiked as well.

On average, 917 people were treated in Canadian hospitals for COVID-19 each day in the last week, putting almost 40 per cent more strain on health care services.

Health Canada says as we move into the fall, there is growing concern for those who continue to be unvaccinated.

With files from Lucas Casaletto and The Canadian Press