The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has thrown its support behind the implementation of a province-wide proof of immunization program following reports that such a move is being considered by the Ford government.
In a statement released this morning, association president and CEO Rocco Rossi, said it is “promising to hear reports about a potential vaccine ‘passport’ system in Ontario.”
Rossi added that a lack of government guidance “puts the burden on individual businesses to create, implement, and enforce their own rules and this disproportionately impacts small business.
“Implementing a proof-of-immunization program will encourage more Ontarians to get vaccinated, as we have seen in British Columbia and Quebec, while allowing businesses to remain open even as case counts rise.
“Details of the framework, including the guidance that goes with it, will be equally as important as the system itself. Ontario’s vaccine ‘passport’ system should avoid creating additional red tape or barriers to reopening, particularly for small businesses that don’t have access to the same resources as bigger companies to implement and enforce their own policies.”
“In absence of a centralized, Canada-wide approach to COVID-19 proof-of immunization for international and domestic use, we support the implementation of a provincial certificate that is verifiable, secure, standardized, accessible, and portable, as recommended by Ontario’s Science Table.
“We are looking forward to learning more about the government’s plans and working collaboratively with them to ensure a smooth implementation for Ontario business.”
Last week, the OCC, with guidance from legal experts at McCarthy Tétrault, released Vax-Pass Tenets, a proof-of-vaccination framework to support reopening plans for Ontario private sector businesses.
According to a release, the framework outlines five guiding principles for private sector businesses to adopt in the development of their independent proof-of-vaccination frameworks in the absence of a domestic system.
The five principles are as follows:
- Safety: Businesses must take all steps reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of their workforce and place of business.
- Science: Vax-pass programs should be consistent with current science and public health recommendations on COVID-19.
- Accommodation: Businesses must provide human rights-related accommodation to the point of undue hardship.
- Privacy: Businesses should use the least intrusive mechanism to verify vaccination status.
- Transparency: Businesses should engage in clear and ongoing dialogue with employees and customers to manage understanding and expectations and educate stakeholders about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination.