Ontario’s top doctor scrapped a planned COVID-19 update on Tuesday as the provincial government confirmed it is working on unveiling a COVID-19 vaccine certificate.
The Ford government was expected to unveil an Ontario-based vaccine certificate system sometime this week.
However, sources tell CTV News Toronto that Ford’s cabinet met for approximately two hours on Monday night to consider the proposed system and did not approve it.
The sources say that Ford, in particular, wasn’t happy with what was presented to cabinet and asked that further work be done on the system.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore was scheduled to speak with reporters this afternoon but a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health says that the news conference has been scrapped “in light of the government’s ongoing work on a proof of vaccination certificate.”
Sources say Ontario is eyeing a digital proof of vaccination certificate system similar to one introduced in British Columbia.
Officials in that province have said that the provincial vaccine certificate system could be a temporary solution until the federal government introduces its own vaccine passport sometime in the fall, suggesting that a similar approach could be utilized in Ontario.
Sources previously told CTV News Toronto that the Ontario certificate would be required “in non-essential settings like restaurants and movie theatres.”
But it remains unclear whether the Ford government will actually require proof of vaccination for entrance to non-essential settings or simply leave it up to businesses.
Under the B.C. order, individuals will have to have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to gain access to a range of non-essential settings as of Sept. 13. They will then require two doses as of Oct. 24.
“I think the government needs to set the rules. Businesses have a lot on their plates already, especially small businesses. The last thing we want is to shut business down again and the government needs to take the burden off the business community and make the rules clear and across the board so everybody is more or less in the same boat,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said during a press conference on Tuesday.
“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. There are already passports that have been developed. I don’t know why yet again Doug Ford late of the mark.”
The Ford government has long insisted that a vaccine certificate system is not necessary in Ontario since residents can download “a receipt” with information about the vaccines they received from a provincial website.
There has, however, been a growing chorus of calls from multiple stakeholders – from municipalities to businesses to healthcare workers and educators – to create some sort of formal vaccine passport that could be used to gain access to some businesses and events.
Speaking with reporters, Horwath accused the Ford government of “dragging its feet” on the vaccine certificate system and letting “politics rule the day instead of public health.”
But in an interview with CP24 earlier in the day Mayor John Tory defended Ford, noting that the premier appears to be doing “the right thing” now.
“I hope we stay away from all this kind of concentration on whether Premier Ford had a different view sometime ago. It is not the issue,” he said.
A number of professional sporting organizations have already introduced policies requiring that eligible fans be vaccinated or produce a negative COVID-19 test result to gain access to their facilities, including the Raptors, Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Argos and TFC.
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello.
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