Ontario’s Medical Officers of Health are urging the Ontario Government to consider introducing a vaccine certificate, and may take steps to introduce their own if the province fails to.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis is the medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and the President of the Association of Local Public Health Agencies, and he says discussions are ongoing to explore issuing regional vaccine passports in his area and that other health units would follow suit to ensure consistency across the province. This would come should the provincial government fail to issue its own certification method.
In Simcoe-Muskoka, medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner told Barrie 360 in an email the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health has sent a letter to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, urging him to consider vaccine certificates. The letter says vaccine certificates could serve “as an incentive for Ontario’s eligible population to become fully vaccinated, and to allow for businesses and services to continue to open more safely during periods of increased transmission.”
However, the letter, co-signed by Dr. Gardner, indicates concerns have been raised regarding the equity of access to vaccinations with this approach, such as for those of lower-income, members of racial minorities, and shift workers. “However, it is likely that the call for this approach will increase with the increase in transmission that is being predicted in the weeks and months to come. As such it would be prudent for the province to consider and further investigate the potential for this approach,” reads the letter.
Dr. Gardner says a number of health units and medical officers of health are considering options to locally support vaccinations in workplaces, along with the potential for nonessential services to apply vaccine certification for their patrons.
Meanwhile, Ontario Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca will hold a virtual health summit on Monday, August 30 to discuss the implementation of vaccine certifications province-wide. He has extended an invitation to Premier Doug Ford and Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath to join the meeting to find a non-partisan approach.
The Province of Quebec will introduce vaccine certification as of September 1, while British Columbia has announced its intention to do the same.