Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Teresa Tam says all COVID-19 policies, including provincial vaccine passports, need to be “re-examined” as the virus is here to stay for months or even years.
Tam made the comment while acknowledging that the virus will morph into different variants and forms with various degrees of risk in the future.
“Some will actually be quite severe or disruptive and we need to be ready for them. But we do need to have more longer-term sustained approaches and capacity-building so that we’re not in crisis mode all the time as we fight this virus,” she said.
Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada has already started discussions with counterparts at the provincial and territorial levels to determine the possible path forward. They will review the existing “suite of measures” that have impacted people’s daily lives for the past two years.
“Vaccine mandates of course primarily are related to provincial jurisdiction, and I do think these measures should be evaluated going forward,” she said.
But the challenge for the provinces is to find the right balance between containing the virus and returning to a sense of normalcy, Tam said.
“I do think that prior to vaccinations, prior to getting some more treatments, and of course some immunity afforded by Omicron, that balance was very, very difficult to achieve,'' she said.
“I am optimistic that it will become easier to achieve better balance.”
Several provinces have signalled their intention to do away with some, if not all, remaining COVID-19 health restrictions.
On Feb. 3, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said his government will set a “firm date” next week to end the province’s vaccine passport, as well as announcing a phased plan to drop almost all COVID-restriction by the end of the month, provided the pressure on the hospitals continues to decrease.