Even as Europe forges ahead with its vaccine passport plan and the first passengers have trialed IATA’s similar Travel Pass scheme, Canada’s own plans for vaccine travel certification remain confused.
Part of the problem is that health care remains a provincial matter. While people receiving COVID shots get a document from their provincial or territorial health ministry to prove it, none of that information is shared with the federal government.
“Ottawa gets only non-identifying information about adverse effects, along with demographic data and information about the vaccines’ overall coverage,” noted a report by iPolitics.
When iPolitics contacted Health Minister Patty Hajdu’s office about what type of collaboration would be needed with the provinces and territories to implement a vaccine passport scheme, all they got was a non-reply.
“The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with a number of departments across government, and the federal government regularly engages in conversations with provinces, territories, and international partners to determine the best path forward,” replied Hajdu’s spokesperson, Cole Davidson.
Meanwhile, several observers are criticizing Canada’s reluctance to embrace some sort of vaccine certification standard.
“This great hesitancy suggests Canada will be a distant follower, not a leader, in promoting the concept of vaccine passports,” wrote Don Martin for CTV News.
“We will end up playing catch-up to a world getting ready to embrace vaccine verification over trust in forehead temperature readings and three-day-old test results.”
Marcus Kolga, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, wrote an op-ed piece for the Toronto Star that suggested Canada needs to act quickly or risk being left behind.
“Hesitating and delaying the need for some form of standardized vaccination certification will cost Canadians in the long run—both in economic terms and in mobility. The faster we can open our borders safely, the quicker we can begin our return to normalcy,” he wrote.
While Canada dithers, the European Commission announced it is going ahead with a “digital green certificate.” Internationally, the first group of air pax flew using the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass app.