The Canadian government will introduce digital immunity passports, the Health Minister of Ontario has confirmed. The idea of immunity passports is facing pushback not only from vaccine skeptics but also people who would like the government to respect their privacy and civil liberties.
In a recent press briefing, Christine Elliot, the health minister of Ontario was asked how the government planned to convince people to take the vaccines. She warned that those who refuse to take the vaccine will face certain restrictions.
While a vaccine will not be mandatory, citizens who won’t hold the passport will be denied access to some aspects of public life. “That’s their choice, this is not going to be a mandatory campaign. It will be voluntary,” Elliot said.
She added that, “There may be some restrictions that may be placed on people that don’t have vaccines for travel purposes, to be able to go out to theatres and other places.”
Elliot was also asked if the government would introduce immunity passports, or some other proof of vaccination. She said:
“Yes, because that’s going to be really important for people to have for travel purposes, perhaps for work purposes, for going to theatres or cinemas or any other places where people will be in closer physical contact.”
Dr. David Williams, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health also said that a coronavirus vaccination would be necessary for people to be able to move around.
“What we can do is to say sometimes for access, or ease, in getting into certain settings, if you don’t have vaccination then you’re not allowed into that setting without other protection materials,” he said.
After Elliot’s remarks during the press briefing, The Toronto Sun followed up by speaking to her press secretary, who made it clear that the government was considering multiple options for the “tracking and surveillance” of COVID-19 vaccination status.
This includes exploring developing tech-based solutions while also providing for alternative options to ensure equitable access to any potential ‘immunity passport,’” Alexandra Hilkene, Elliot’s press secretary, said.
According to Brian Lilley, a reporter for The Toronto Sun, the idea of immunity passports will be met with criticism.
“That phrase will set off alarm bells and it should, not just for anti-vaxxers, but for anyone who is concerned about Charter rights and governments running roughshod over them.”
Canada is not the only government or institution that has suggested immunity passports are the way forward for life to get back to the way it was before the pandemic. Government officials and airlines in the US, the UK, and other countries around the globe are also considering the so-called immunity passports or COVID passports.
As the former director of the US CDC noted in an article on the Wall Street Journal published last week, governments will push for the immunity passports despite the legal and ethical concerns.
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