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COVID-19 vaccine passports roll out across Canada as Delta variant spreads

Last Updated Aug 25, 2021 at 6:36 am MDT

EDMONTON (CityNews) ─ The Edmonton Oilers became the latest Canadian sports team to announce a proof of vaccination policy for fans and staff.

Six NHL and seven CFL teams are doing the same so far, and that may create a snowball effect in other industries.

“As we see bigger organizations announce vaccine passports, we’ll see smaller businesses take these up, and I think we could see this become the norm,” said Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor at the University of Calgary specializing in health law and policy.

“I don’t think any team or event venue wants the publicity associated with a super-spreader event for example.”

Some say it could simply come down to a decision about money.

“Businesses will take a lead in voicing their support for it, because they’ll see it as a way to get people to come back to their businesses,” said Thomas Tenkate, a professor at the Ryerson School of Occupational and Public Health.


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Meanwhile, B.C. became the third province to adopt a proof of vaccine card, joining Quebec and Manitoba. But the Alberta government has said they have no intention to mandate vaccine passports. That inaction could create issues.

“When the government isn’t the one making the policy, the policy that is made in their absence is one that has concerns with privacy or discrimination,” said Hardcastle.

WATCH: Vaccine passports: A new trend for businesses? (Aug. 22, 2021)

Critics have raised privacy concerns, but experts say it would be no different than your driver’s license.

“If you think of these things like cards with your vaccination status on it, you still control who gets to see it, you just carry it around,” said Timothy Caulfield, a health law and policy expert at the University of Alberta.

And while accommodations may need to be made for health or religious exemptions, being turned away from a hockey game for being unvaccinated isn’t considered discriminatory.

“This isn’t an immutable characteristic you have. This is a decision you make, get vaccinated, don’t get vaccinated. And decisions have consequences,” said Caulfield.

WATCH: Quebec vaccine passport app is ready (Aug. 24, 2021)

Now, Health policy experts are concerned that a patchwork approach across the country could lead to some confusion.

“If provinces have a different passport than the federal government, which passport would you use if you were to go to the gym or the movies?” said Tenkate.

Early evidence shows vaccine passports can curb transmission. And it also has younger people reconsidering their hesitancy towards getting the shot.

“The evidence from places like France shows that this can nudge those people to get vaccinated,” said Caulfield. “Sporting facilities, entertainment facilities- those are the facilities this demo wants to go to.”