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Alberta Medical Association head calling for vaccine passport

Last Updated Sep 8, 2021 at 8:12 pm MDT

CALGARY – The head of the Alberta Medical Association is calling on the government to explore a provincial COVID-19 vaccine passport if the latest round of health measures don’t curb the virus spread.

On Friday, Alberta announced it was reintroducing a mask mandate and cutting liquor service at restaurants, pubs, and bars at 10 p.m. every night in an effort to get skyrocketing case counts and hospitalizations under control.

Premier Jason Kenney called the fourth wave, spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant, a crisis of the unvaccinated.

The UCP also announced a $100-cash-incentive for people getting their first or second shots before Oct. 14.


“While some jurisdictions have had some success with strategies like this, other provinces have seen increases in vaccination uptake following announcements of vaccine passport plans,” said AMA president Paul Boucher in a letter dated Sept. 8.

The province stopped short of introducing a vaccine passport, something it has long said it wasn’t interested in, but the AMA is hopeful the UCP might reconsider.

“Alberta must be open to taking every opportunity to encourage vaccination and all options should be explored if the Friday measures fail to have the desired effect.”

Boucher says the effects of the resurrected mask mandate and liquor rules won’t be seen for weeks, which is concerning since ICUs are at 95 per cent capacity and elective surgeries are being cancelled right now.

“The current state of our health care system is concerning and recovery lies on the other side of yet more daunting weeks ahead,” he said.


After B.C. implemented a vaccine passport, the province saw a 174 per cent jump in people looking to get vaccinated. Appointments doubled in Quebec and Ontario after passports were announced in those provinces.

Alberta saw a 22 per cent jump in vaccine bookings after announcing the cash incentive Friday.

Several recent polls have indicated support for vaccine passports across Canada has grown.

The Angus Reid Institute released numbers Wednesday that indicate support for a vaccine pass has jumped nearly 10 per cent among Albertans, with 54 per cent in favour of introducing a passport system.

Some experts have said that vaccine passports would help improve Alberta’s sluggish vaccine rates.


“It’s pretty clear that it convinces at least a broad group of people who have been essentially in the vaccine-hesitant space to move into the pro-vaccine space, essentially because now, we’re essentially raising the cost of not getting vaccinated,” said Jean-Christophe Boucher, an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, in a previous interview exploring B.C.’s passport.

“The vaccine passport is a really good policy tool which not only helps move some people into the pro-vaccine space and get vaccinated but also protects the other parts of the population who have been vaccinated,” he said.

-with files from Jo Horwood