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Quebec to introduce vaccine passport system for non-essential services

·3 min read

Quebec will introduce a vaccine passport system in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the province and allow those who are fully vaccinated to "get back to a normal life", Premier François Legault announced on Thursday.

While business groups are awaiting the details of the program, many say the decision to introduce a proof of vaccination system is "a very good idea" that will help prevent lockdowns as cases rise. 

The premier said at a press conference that the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in the province has pushed the government to move ahead with a vaccine passport system that will require people be fully vaccinated in order to use some non-essential services. 

"Like we said a couple months ago, we will put in place the passport (so) that the people that made the effort to be vaccinated that they are able to come back to a normal life," Legault said on Thursday.  

Legault said more details will be announced by Health Minister Christian Dube in the coming days, but that the system means that some non-essential services will be available only to those who are fully vaccinated. 

"The main principle behind this passport is that people who made the effort to get two doses of the vaccine should be able to live an almost-normal life," Legault said. 

"Go get your vaccines. This is the best way of... putting an end to this pandemic." 

Business groups weigh in

Perrin Beatty, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview that Quebec's decision to move forward with a vaccine passport system is "a very good idea." 

"The uptick in parts of the country that we've witnessed in recent days in Canada indicates that we may well be facing a fourth wave of the unvaccinated," he said.  

"What Quebec is trying to do is ensure it doesn't have to go back into lockdown, shut down the economy and people's lives. Digital vaccination certification is a measure to help us keep the economy open and allow many more people to maintain normal lives." 

While Beatty applauds Quebec's decision, he says the government will need to make sure the standards are clear and that the system used to show proof of vaccination can be trusted and is secure. He also hopes other provinces will follow Quebec's lead and introduce similar systems. 

"It is foolish for any jurisdiction to say that we're taking tools off the table that could help to save people's lives, could help the economy to stay open and allow people to have a more normal existence," he said. 

"It just makes sense."

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says that while vaccine passports are a contentious issue with diverse views among its members, it is in support of preventing future lockdowns. The CFIB is currently working with the Quebec government to ensure the system is as simple as possible and not a burden for businesses that are still struggling to recover. 

"The last thing they want to face is a new shutdown," François Vincent, CFIB's vice-president representing Quebec, said in an interview. 

"We have to do everything possible not to shut down businesses again." 

The Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ) has also pushed the province to implement a proof of vaccination system, saying it would allow businesses to reopen and major events to be held. 

"We all want to resume our activities as quickly as possible, including the possibility of traveling. The vaccination passport would bring us even closer to this goal," FCCQ Charles Milliard said in a statement released in May. 

"The advantages of a vaccination passport are therefore, in our opinion, much greater than its disadvantages."

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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