Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be mandatory for people travelling by air and rail by the end of October. By the end of November, all travellers will need to be vaccinated.
Here’s a look at what the provinces and territories have said about their proof-of-vaccination programs, or lack thereof.
Residents of B.C. need a vaccine card to get into restaurants, clubs, ticketed sporting events and organized affairs like weddings. People have to show proof of having had a single dose of a vaccine to enter gyms, fitness centres and casinos. After Oct. 24, those aged 12 and older will need to have been fully vaccinated at least seven days earlier. Provincial government employees in core services or ministries must also be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22, which affects about 30,000 workers. All workers in long-term care and assisted-living facilities must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 12.
Alberta brought in its restrictions exemption program on Sept. 20. Businesses and event organizers that check patrons for proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test are exempt from capacity limits and other public health restrictions, although they must still require masks. For example, restaurants that don’t require vaccination are limited to outdoor dining.
Saskatchewan brought in its vaccine passport Oct. 1. Proof of vaccination applies to nightclubs, bars, casinos, movie theatres, museums, indoor dining at restaurants and sporting events. It isn’t required for civil services, retail or grocery stores, places of worship, at hotels or at non-ticketed amateur sporting events. Those who are not vaccinated can show a negative COVID-19 test.
Manitoba launched its vaccine card — both digital and physical — in June. The card is required to enter many venues, such as ticketed sporting events and concerts, indoor theatres and cinemas, restaurants including patios, nightclubs, gyms and casinos. Some other events, such as indoor religious services, Indigenous powwows, weddings and funerals face lower capacity limits if they allow unvaccinated people to attend.
Ontario required residents aged 12 and older to show their vaccine receipt and a piece of government-issued photo ID starting Sept. 22 in order to access the indoor areas of restaurants and bars, nightclubs, meeting and event spaces, gyms and theatres. As of Oct. 22, residents will receive a QR code that will serve as proof of vaccination, which businesses can scan using a government app. Proof of vaccination will not be required to access services including retail stores and hair salons.
Quebec launched its vaccine passport on Sept. 1, which is required to access certain non-essential activities and businesses, including bars, restaurant dining rooms, gyms, festivals, sports venues, cinemas and other large-scale events. It also applies to all indoor sporting activities and outdoor sports that involve prolonged contact. The proof of vaccination can be uploaded to the VaxiCode smartphone application, or it can be presented as a PDF or in paper form.
New Brunswick’s proof of vaccination has been in effect since Sept. 22 and requires people to show proof of full vaccination and a government-issued ID to access certain activities and services such as indoor festivals, bars, restaurants and gyms. The province is working on a QR code that can be displayed using a smartphone. Any individual or business that fails to follow the new regulations may be subject to fines ranging between $172.50 and $772.50.
Nova Scotia has required residents 12 and older to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to “participate in discretionary, recreational or non-essential activities” since Oct. 4. The system applies to restaurants, gyms, cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sporting events. The province says it will develop a process for people who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. Original proof of full vaccination records are acceptable in paper and digital formats, and must include the person’s name, the brand of vaccine they received and date upon which they received it. Nova Scotia plans to implement VaxCheckNS later this month, which is a free cellphone application that reads QR codes.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to announce details of its vaccine passport plan on Oct. 7. Premier Andrew Furey announced last week the province’s vaccination passports will be mandatory for “all non-essential activities,” and officials said consultations with business owners about the system had begun. Furey said Newfoundland and Labrador’s vaccine passport would be modelled on the one used in Quebec, employing QR codes. A spokesperson for Furey’s office said the premier had also been in talks with religious leaders and the government was considering mandating the use of vaccine passports for in-person worship services.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island’s vaccine passport program went into effect on Oct. 5. The PEI Vax Pass Program is described by authorities as a temporary measure that applies to anyone aged 12 and older. They will need to show proof of vaccination to access certain indoor and outdoor businesses, services and events. For now, Island residents and visitors will need to show their government-issued vaccination record and a photo ID. A QR code for Island residents is planned in the coming weeks.
The territory is launching an online COVID-19 vaccine credential system. Premier Sandy Silver has said the credential will be available online and will help residents when they are asked for proof of vaccination in other jurisdictions, including when they travel. The system will give residents the option of receiving a digital copy or printing a paper copy of their proof of vaccination.
In the Northwest Territories, residents can request their vaccination records, but the territory has said it will not create a vaccine passport system.
Nunavut has said that it won’t have its own vaccine passport system, but that it will comply with federal requirements as they are decided.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2021.