Canada is introducing a standardized national vaccine passport for domestic and international travel, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Oct. 21.
The proof-of-vaccination certificate, which Canadians will need to travel both within the country and internationally, is based on an international standard for Smart health cards and uses the provincial vaccine certificate already in place as its framework.
“Today I’m happy to confirm that all provinces and territories have confirmed that they will be moving forward with a standardized national proof of vaccination,” Trudeau said at a press conference on Oct. 21.
He said Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and all three territories have already put this national standard for proof of vaccination into use.
The digital vaccine passport will include the holder’s name and date of birth and a QR code that includes their vaccination history. It will also show the number of doses received, the type of vaccine, lot numbers, and dates of vaccination. Paper copies will also be accepted.
“You can download it into your phone, you can print it out, you can ask for a copy by mail if you don’t have those capacities, but you are now able to show proofs of vaccination immediately in all those provinces, and all other provinces have agreed and are working hard to come online,” Trudeau said.
The PM also announced on Oct. 21 that the federal government has reached a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech on purchasing pediatric vaccines for children aged 5 to 11.
“We’ve signed agreements with Pfizer, so that as soon as Health Canada gave us the green light for use in Canada, very shortly after afterward we’ll be receiving enough doses in Canada to vaccinate all Canadian kids between 5 and 11,” Trudeau said.
On Oct. 18, Health Canada said it had received a submission from the vaccine company requesting authorization to use the COVID-19 vaccine in children under the age of 12, who are currently not eligible to receive the vaccine.
Trudeau did not give an exact time as to when the vaccines will roll out, saying that they must go through the full evaluation process by Health Canada.
“It is extremely important that they go through all the full processes necessary so that every parent can have confidence when these vaccines do get approved that they will be safe for their children,” he said.
Government Transitioning to More Targeted Pandemic Supports: Freeland
Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland also said on Oct. 21 that while Canada’s economy is rebounding, the economic recovery is “uneven” and that “the health measures that are saving lives continue to restrict some economic activity.”
“That is why today we are announcing what we very much hope and believe is the final pivot in delivering the support needed to ensure a robust recovery,” Freeland said.
As existing income and business support programs are set to end on Oct. 23—including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)—Freeland said the federal government will be offering new support programs that are more target-oriented.
“We are moving from the very broad-based support that was appropriate at the height of our lockdowns to more targeted measures that will provide help where it is needed while prudently managing government finances,” Freeland said.
The new recovery benefits include a new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program, Lockdown Support Program, and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit. The programs will be open for application on Oct. 24 and remain in place until May 7, 2022.
Freeland said the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program will be provided to employers through the intermediary wage subsidy programs and rent assistance programs.
Hotel and restaurants owners, as well as travel agencies still facing COVID-19 restrictions, will be given a subsidy rate of up to 75 percent depending on their loss of revenue.
“The Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program will be available to employers who can show they have faced deep and enduring losses and will provide support through the wage and rent subsidy programs,” Freeland said.
The subsidy rate for this group will start at 10 percent for applicants with a 50 percent revenue loss, and will increase to a maximum of 50 percent subsidy for those with a 75 percent revenue loss.
These economic support programs will be available until May 7, 2022, but starting mid-March the support will decrease by half, as the government prepares for a full recovery and end to these pandemic-related benefits, Freeland said.
The government has also proposed economic support programs and extensions of federal benefits for workers.
The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit would provide $300 a week in income support to eligible workers who are unable to work due to a local lockdown anytime between Oct. 24, 2021 and May 7, 2022.
The government also extended the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit until May 7, 2022, and increased the maximum duration of the benefits by 2 weeks.