Canada pursues vaccine passports for future travel

Federal government is working with provinces to create vaccine certification

A health passport is checked at the entrance to the Grand Rex cinema in Paris. AFP
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Canada is moving forward with a vaccine passport for Canadians wanting to travel abroad. Marco Mendicino, the country’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the move on Wednesday.

“We are working actively with the provinces and territories on a secure pan-Canadian proof of vaccination for international travel,” said Mr Mendicino. “These credentials will have a common design across all provinces.”

The passport will include the holder's Covid-19 vaccination history, vaccination type and date of inoculation. It will be available to all fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents.

Canada is not the first country to institute a vaccine passport. In July, the European Union developed a digital health certificate, also known as the “green pass”, which allows fully vaccinated citizens to travel freely throughout the continent.

The idea of a vaccine passport has been met with hesitancy by some countries. In the US, many states have already banned the possibility, including Florida, Georgia and Texas. New York City, however, plans to make proof of vaccines mandatory for entry into restaurants and indoor entertainment venues starting in September.

In Canada, the province of Quebec recently announced it was proceeding with its own vaccine passport in the form of a QR code on a user's mobile phone. The province said the passports will be required to access all non-essential public spaces including restaurants and gyms.

Minister Mendicino said Canadians could expect to have their vaccine passports by “early fall,” however he would not elaborate on what form it would come in or how far along the government was in developing it.

In Canada, the provinces and territories control all health-related data. Mr Mendicino said the federal government was working closely with its provincial partners to find ways to transfer users' vaccine-related information safely and securely.

“We have provinces like British Columbia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, all of the territories with whom we've built some real momentum here,” Mr Mendicino said.

“This is going to help us roll out the next phase of a proof of vaccination credential program that has already begun with the ArriveCan app.”

Updated: August 11, 2021, 10:06 PM