Business groups support introduction vaccine passport in Ontario, but call out government for lack of workplace guidance for employees
FOLLOWING SEVERAL DAYS of cabinet-level deliberations, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Wednesday that his government will implement proof-of-vaccination requirements for access to numerous non-essential services in the province.
Effective September, Ontarians will have to show they’re fully vaccinated in order to dine indoors at restaurants and bars, enter a fitness facility, attend an indoor concert or sporting event, or go to the movies, among other settings.
“We need to avoid lockdowns at all costs,” Ford said in a news conference Wednesday. “We want our kids in school and our businesses to stay open. And let’s be clear: the (Covid-19) Delta variant is here and it’s a very, very real threat.”
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Initially, proof will be provided by a paper or PDF receipt of double-vaccinated status, as well as government-issued identification. As of October 22, the provincial government said Ontarians will have access to a unique QR code that businesses will be able to scan using a new app.
In a technical briefing Wednesday morning, the government emphasized that “at no time” will the vaccine passport requirement be expanded for admission to grocery stores and necessary medical care.
Small business owners in Canada have been mixed in their views on vaccine passports.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released a survey last week showing fewer than half of respondents support a passport requirement for employees in the workplace or customers visiting their business. However, more than half (55 per cent) said they’d support proof-of-vaccination requirements if that spared the economy from another lockdown.
For its part, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released a statement on Wednesday saying that while it supports the implementation of a provincial vaccination passport for high-risk indoor settings, there remains a void of information and policy when it comes to workplace vaccination policies.
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“There remains an opportunity for the government to provide further guidance to the province’s business community, particularly around workplace vaccination policies for employees,” says OCC president and CEO, Rocco Rossi.
“We are concerned that a lack of clear guidance will disproportionately impact small businesses and lead to a patchwork of inconsistent policies across the province,” Continues Rossi. “Clarity must be provided around what constitutes accommodation, how the technology can be used for employees, timelines, enforcement, and other considerations.”