By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health has no qualms about Ontario adopting a vaccine passport, similar to what Quebec is currently piloting.
Dr. David Colby said Quebec is showing “tremendous leadership and foresight” by moving forward with the proof-of-vaccination legislation.
He wishes Ontario would do the same.
“I have expressed similar views to the province,” Colby told a municipal press conference last week, adding the passport would not restrict people from essential services.
Quebec’s passport, slated to commence Sept. 1, will prohibit unvaccinated people from attending some indoor settings such as bars and restaurants, essentially giving vaccinated residents more privileges.
“It’s not that people are being restricted or coerced in any way,” Colby noted, adding many polls show the public supports such a move.
Yet the Ford government continues to shy away from the idea, one that Toronto’s mayor and leading health officials support.
The province also refuses to mandate vaccinations in the workplace even as the so-called fourth wave – carrying the virulent COVID-19 Delta variant – shows signs of taking hold.
Colby would like to see all health-care workers double vaxxed as part of their job requirement.
Fortunately, he said, the majority of health-care workers who are “trained and knowledgeable” have gotten the shot, but a “substantial minority” remain unvaccinated.
Because many of these unvaccinated workers deal with vulnerable populations, Colby said there is a good legal case for them to be vaccinated.
He said the population has a small “hard core” group of people – between two and three per cent – who refuse the shot.
The rest are hesitant for a variety of reasons, Colby said, adding this group can be encouraged to get the vaccine.
“There are a lot of factors involved in terms of motivating people to get vaccinated,” he said. “We’re hoping that science and sense prevails rather than coercive tactics.”
For the fence sitters, Colby hopes that by dispelling rumours, the science “should speak for itself.”
The federal government also has plans in the works for a vaccine passport for Canadians who wish to travel outside the country.
The government also passed legislation last Friday that all public servants must be vaccinated – a mandate to be implemented by Crown corporations and other federally regulated businesses this week.
There are more than 300,000 federal public servants and thousands more that fall under the federal labour code.
Officials said it is not a choice, and workers are at risk of losing their jobs if they don’t comply.