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Canada School of Public Service panel proposes digital IDs tied to vaccine passports

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A federal panel in Canada discussed the possibility of using digital IDs to track vaccination status. The panel also discussed making Canada a global leader in digital identification.

The Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) held an event on February 1st to discuss how digital IDs could be used to track vaccination status in future pandemics. The event, titled “The New Economy Series: Digital Identity as a New Policy Frontier, was moderated by the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Francis Bilodeau.

Bilodeau asked the panelists, “How could digital identity and a proper digital infrastructure help us deal with future situations or future pandemics?”

Joni Brennan, the President of the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada replied: “I think that the identity is important for the pandemic – any time you would need to verify someone, anytime you would need to also do supply chain tracking and management about how do we even get the vaccine to people? How many people do we need to get it to? Have they had it yet or not? Are they due for their second dose?”

Brennan added that the scope of digital IDs should be expanded to include vaccination status.

“In terms of making this more real, perhaps, for some of the folks inside of government, I would say that we really need to close the chasm of what identity is and what identity does. When we’re talking about identifying someone in order to get them the vaccine and do that tracking that needs to be done to deliver the vaccine and know where and how to distribute it, that’s an identity issue. Knowing that the vaccine actually came from the company, that’s an identity issue.”

The discussion also touched on making Canada a global leader in digital identification.

“I think the time is perfect for us to do that, but it actually needs some teeth,” said the Chief Officer for Innovation Labs and New Ventures at Interac, Debbie Gamble. “It needs political will to pull the various players across the public and private sectors together. And together, I am confident that over a number of years we can actually start to become leaders in the marketplace.”

The Canadian Bankers Association is also pushing for the setting up of a federal digital identification system.

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