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Ontario's science advisors come out in favor of COVID passports

A green and white mobile version of a COVID-19 vaccine passport on top of a burgundy traditional passport
Unlike other Canadian provinces, Ontario is not requiring a vaccine passport as it reopens.

The debate over vaccines and their verification is far from over in Ontario. Premier Doug Ford has come out strongly against any kind of a vaccine passport, but now the Science Advisory Table believes otherwise.

This week, at least two more Ontario universities said they would need proof of vaccination from students who plan to return to in-person learning. For now, Ontario only issues a paper as proof of vaccination. It can also be downloaded.

But some businesses say without a clear direction from government, they would have to decide whether to make vaccines mandatory for employees and patrons — and that’s become a difficult conversation, not without a backlash from antivaxxers. Some business owners say they’ve received negative reviews and even online threats.

Now, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has weighed in to help navigate what has become a divisive issue. The advisors said vaccine passports could be useful in the reopening of higher-risk settings sooner.

“The only way to deal with this is to make a distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated, unfortunately," said Scientific Director Dr. Peter Juni. "But our task is, obviously, to make sure that really everybody who wants a vaccine can get it. And we need to pushing as much as we can during the next few weeks to achieve that.”

Juni pointed out that Canada is one of the few places in the world that has the Delta variant of COVID-19 under control. He said if Canada is hit with a fourth wave, vaccine certificates would help in keeping the economy open while reducing the risk of contributing to further outbreaks.

A recent survey found that nearly 60% of Canadians are in favor of a mandatory proof of vaccination in public places, including gyms, shopping malls, restaurants and offices.