Ontario has announced its version of a COVID-19 vaccine certificate, which will be required to access non-essential services in the province starting Sept. 22.
Premier Doug Ford announced the new vaccine certificate policy on Wednesday, saying vaccination is needed to access businesses such as restaurants, bars, casinos, and other indoor facilities. The certificate will not be applied to outdoor activities.
“It’s no secret this is something that I did not want to do. This is a serious step that we’re not taking lightly,” Ford said.
“This is a temporary tool that we won’t use for a day longer than we have to, but … I know that this is what we have to do right now in the face of the fourth wave.”
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Christine Elliott said the new policy will not apply to children under the age of 12, and will accommodate “legitimate medical exemptions.”
“At no time will people be denied medical care, food from grocery stores, or basic medical supplies based on their vaccination status,” Elliott said.
A vaccination certificate would also not be required for essential services like retail stores, salons, banks, and places of worship.
LIVE: Huge protest against vaccine passport forms at Queen's Park. pic.twitter.com/qFs4DBBEuP
— CrasHTalk (@CrasTalk) September 1, 2021
A protest against the vaccine certificate was held at Queen’s Park on Wednesday as Ford announced the new policy. Several hundred people marched down Yonge Street chanting “no vaxx pass.”
Another protest against mandatory vaccination is scheduled to take place at Queen’s Park on Sept. 4.
The Ontario government is working on creating personalized QR codes for vaccinated individuals, which is set to roll out on Oct. 22. The QR code can be printed or stored on smartphones. An app for businesses to scan and confirm the contents of the QR code is under development and is also expected in October.
The province is working to establish a system for people without email, health card, or ID to prove their vaccination status.
Before the digital vaccine certificate is delivered in October, residents can download their vaccination receipts from the provincial government’s website.
Ford said Ontario will align with other provinces that have introduced similar vaccine certificate policies. Currently, vaccine passports have been introduced for non-essential services in British Columbia and Quebec.