Alberta has added travel prizes to its COVID-19 vaccine lottery in a bid to encourage people to get a second dose.
In addition to the province's three $1-million lottery draws, fully vaccinated Albertans could win 40 travel prizes, including a week-long stay at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico and round-trip tickets to anywhere in Canada.
The prizes are provided by WestJet and Air Canada, the Alberta government announced in a news release Wednesday. Both airlines will also offer a voucher for two round-trip tickets anywhere they fly.
Albertans with two doses have until Aug. 24 to register online for the prizes, with a draw set to take place on Aug. 31. Only one entry is required to be eligible for all of Alberta's vaccine lottery draws, including the travel prizes.
"The safe restart of travel is essential to Canada's economic recovery and the faster Canadians are vaccinated, the sooner we can restore jobs across our hard-hit travel and tourism sector," Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer said in a statement.
Alberta unveiled its $3-million vaccine lottery plan on Monday, with three draws staggered throughout the summer. Any Albertan over 18 with their first dose can win the first draw, set to take place a week after the province hits its 70-per-cent first-dose vaccination milestone.
The second and third lotteries will be open to Albertans who are fully vaccinated two doses, with draws expected to take place in late August and late September.
The province is set to lift most of its public health restrictions two weeks after 70 per cent of Albertans 12 and older get their first dose. As of Tuesday, 69.4 per cent of the eligible population had at least one shot, while 22 per cent had two doses.
But first dose demand in Alberta has tanked this month. The province administered around 8,000 first doses on Sunday and Monday, the lowest consecutive two-day total since February when supply issues hampered the vaccine rollout and only frontline healthcare workers and the most elderly were eligible.
Critics have cast doubt on whether the lottery can convince vaccine-hesitant Albertans to get the jab. But Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the lottery will pay for itself by clamping down on case rates.
Alberta is not the first jurisdiction to offer incentives in an effort to boost vaccine uptake. Last week, Manitoba announced it would hold two lottery draws this summer with $100,000 prizes and $25,000 youth scholarships.
Alberta reported 127 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and four new deaths.