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Temur Durrani

Multi-Platform Writer


Across Canada, a debate about vaccine passports is simmering — far too close to a boiling point within the echelons of government, and with thousands of protestors taking to the streets.

But while the dust has yet to settle, protocols about proof of COVID-19 immunization and exactly which liberties they will unlock remains a national patchwork.

Can you watch a movie, only if you’re vaccinated? Can you go out for dinner at a local restaurant without certain documents on hand? What about the gym, a sports game or the mall?

There is no uniform guidance from the federal government, so every jurisdiction is handling it differently. Public opinion, too, differs from place to place.

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Here’s a breakdown of how vaccine passports look in each province and territory. BNN Bloomberg will keep this story updated as the situation unfolds:


How will it work?

Alberta, a province that vehemently denied mechanisms such as a vaccine passport, is now introducing many elements of one.

Premier Jason Kenney mandated the rules against the backdrop of a healthcare system on the verge of utter collapse.

Between Sept. 20 and Oct. 25, businesses will be given the choice to either require customers to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours.



What will it look like?

Albertans should have access to “a conveniently sized paper card” from their provincial health website by mid-September.

But it is not a paper card, unless you print it yourself. Or, you can choose to save it on your digital device.

What do provincial businesses think?

A poll conducted by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce had found two-thirds of local businesses do not support a mandate for vaccine passports, as of Sept. 1.

However, a separate poll by Léger found 70 per cent of members from the Edmonton and Calgary chambers of commerce supported vaccine passports to avoid closures of services and businesses, as of Sept. 13.

Fairly quickly after the vaccine mandate was announced, calls began to roll in from owners and managers to business groups in Alberta over confusion around the new rules and slammed the government for providing little notice.

Calgary Chamber of Commerce calls for COVID passport clarification

Alberta is imposing new COVID-related restrictions as the province’s health care system risks buckling under the weight of surging virus cases. Ruhee Ismail-Teja, Director of Policy at Calgary Chamber of Commerce, talks about how businesses are reacting to this announcement and says the government needs to provide some more clarify on these restrictions.


British Columbia

How will it work? 

By Sept. 13, British Columbians will need at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to be permitted entry into places like concerts, sports games, pubs, restaurants and fitness centres.

And come Oct. 24, people in the province will need to be fully vaccinated to enjoy those activities, after seven days of being immunized.

What will it look like?

To prove immunization status, B.C. has implemented physical copies of vaccine passports.

When anyone gets vaccinated in the province, they already get a paper copy of that as proof of records. Now, the provincial government has said it can be used to fulfil requirements at any establishment.

What do provincial businesses think?

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce is a proponent for vaccine passports — arguing it is “an important step in helping businesses keep employees, customers, and patrons safe while rebuilding consumer confidence and restoring business.”

But the Chamber believes how mandates work in practice "must be carefully decided," without the onus of enforcement falling upon businesses. It says clearer directions are needed from the province instead of "sweeping" protocols. ​

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How will it work?

Starting Sept. 3, Manitobans will need to show proof of immunization to enter almost all types of facilities, activities and events.

Outgoing Premier Brian Pallister was not shy of referring to this as “vaccine passports,” when he introduced the mandate ahead of his departure.

What will it look like?

QR codes are easily available for anyone who is fully vaccinated in Manitoba, which can act as proof of immunization.

Some physical cards have already been issued and more are on their way, the province said.

What do provincial businesses think?

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce applauds vaccine passports, calling it a proactive measure to encourage more people to get their shots before the “economic and emotional impact” of a fourth wave.

“Our business community has stepped up to meet every challenge that the pandemic has put before them, and we’re confident that Manitoba’s entrepreneurs and leaders will do so again,” the Chamber told BNN Bloomberg.

New Brunswick

How will it work?

New Brunswick will be mandating a vaccine passport, beginning Sept. 22, in response to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Premier Blaine Higgs said anyone over the age of 12 will need to show ID and proof that they’re fully immunized before entering most businesses, service centres or public gatherings.

What will it look like?

Immunization records are available to New Brunswickers, but they must be printed or be ready for quick digital display by residents themselves. Separate vaccine passports will not be provided.

Anyone from outside the province will need to register their travel, starting Sept. 21. A record for this will be provided. Those who are not fully vaccinated will have to self-isolate for 14 days, or test negative after day 10.

What do provincial businesses think?

The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce had said — weeks before the province installed a mandate — “It seems clear at this point that New Brunswickers will need a digital vaccine record or passport for travel purposes at a minimum.”

The organization believes it’s all about mitigating risk. “Many businesses prefer to have as much freedom and autonomy as possible to make the choices that are right for their business — the most important thing is to be able to stay open and avoid further lockdowns,” the Chamber told BNN Bloomberg. 


Newfoundland and Labrador

How will it work?

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador who received their vaccine can access their immunization record online.

​On Sept. 7, the province announced it will introduce an official "vaccine passport" system. 

Until last week, the province declined to comment on this matter or voice the need for any such system to show proof of immunization.​

What will it look like?

Premier Andrew Furey said on Sept. 7 that Newfoundland and Labrador will be using Quebec's model for the vaccine passport, because he believes it's been tested and is secure.

​To that end, QR codes will soon be issued to show a person's level of vaccination against COVID-19 in the province. 

What do provincial businesses think?

Local and provincial chambers of commerce in Newfoundland and Labrador continued this week to either decline BNN Bloomberg’s requests for comment or said they are still unsure of their position on vaccine passports.​

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Northwest Territories

How will it work?

Peoples in the Northwest Territories can request immunization records, but the government said it will not be mandating any vaccine passports.

What will it look like?

In a short statement, the territory’s government said there are no plans at the moment for such documentation or a need to show it, be it digital or physical or both.

What do provincial businesses think?

The N.W.T. Chamber of Commerce did not respond to repeated requests for comment from BNN Bloomberg.

Nova Scotia

How will it work? 

On Sept. 8, Nova Scotia announced it will require "proof of vaccination" for places like concerts, movies, bars, restaurants and fitness facilities. But the government insists it is not the same as a vaccine passport, dodging that terminology.

The province’s top doctor previously alluded to potential “legal difficulties" and said the government was not looking to impose any such systems for immunization records to be displayed.

What will it look like?

Nova Scotians can already show proof of vaccination through the provincial CANImmunize app, 

Newly-elected Premier Tim Houston said that proof can be either printed or shown digitally per the new mandate, until the province develops a separate and complete "digital option." 

What do provincial businesses think?

The Halifax Chamber of Commerce had been pushing the province to provide clearer guidance on its intentions for a vaccine passport. The absence of clarity was creating a “patchwork approach," it said.

The Chamber is pleased with the new announcement, but is looking further at how it will be implemented. 

The business group said proof of vaccination is beneficial for three things: to incentivize the unvaccinated, provide insurance from business closures during a fourth wave, and bolster consumer confidence.



How will it work?

Nunavut does not have any vaccine passport mandates, but the territory’s government said it is looking to Ottawa for guidance after the federal election.

New QR codes will soon be issued for those who are fully-vaccinated, the jurisdiction said Sept. 9. However, the government maintains these are “not the same thing as a vaccine passport.”

What will it look like?

It remains unclear how the territory will proceed with a vaccine passport mandate. However, at the moment, Nunavummiut do already receive an immunization record card when they get their first vaccine dose.

What do provincial businesses think?

“It would be very onerous for businesses to implement an actual vaccine passport. In our community it is mostly Inuks that say they don’t leave the community anyway that didn’t get the vaccine, but to now keep them from shopping I don’t think would be fair,” the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce told BNN Bloomberg.

“Nunavut has done a great job of creating a bubble. So if we keep COVID out, I think we should be able to move freely within.”


How will it work?

Starting Sept. 22, Ontarians must show their vaccine receipt and government-issued ID to access most indoor establishments.

However, those rules do not apply to services like retail stores and hair salons, where people can still enter without showing immunization records.

What will it look like?

By Oct. 22, the province plans to issue QR codes to serve as proof of vaccination, which can be scanned by businesses using a government app.

There will be no physical copies of Ontario’s vaccine passport provided by the province, but people can print it themselves if needed.

Embedded Image
Ontario Premier Doug Ford puts his mask back on during a press conference announcing the enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate system, at Queen's Park in Toronto on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

What do provincial businesses think?

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has pushed the province to create a framework for vaccine passports since early summer, well before Premier Doug Ford’s mandate.

“However, there are questions that remain around ease of implementation and guidance for workplace vaccination policies,” the Chamber told BNN Bloomberg. “We encourage the government to implement their secure, digital tool as quickly as possible.”

The provincial business group added the “gold standard would be a centralized, Canada-wide approach.” It believes a vaccine passport system will allow higher economic growth, greater consumer confidence and reduced risk of further lockdowns.

Prince Edward Island

How will it work?

Prince Edward Island does not have vaccine passports in place, but travellers and residents are required to register for a “PEI Pass” upon return from another jurisdiction.

The pass is available to all Canadians with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It allows an exemption from self-isolation upon entry to the province.

Still, there is a declaration form as a go-around to these rules, whereby a person can say they will be self-isolating and be tested in lieu of not receiving the PEI pass.

What will it look like?

The Maritime province is not providing physical copies of the PEI Pass, but they can be printed by people themselves.

Due to high volumes, you should apply for your PEI Pass at least 72 hours before you plan to arrive, the province said.

What do provincial businesses think?

The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce declined to comment about vaccine passports.

In a short statement, it said: “Our board is still formulating our position on this issue.”


How will it work?

Quebec became the first Canadian province to mandate COVID-19 vaccine passports, as of Sept. 1.

There are few things one can do in the jurisdiction without showing their immunization status — from going to restaurants or bars, to gyms, festivals, sports venues and large-scale events.

Embedded Image
Stuart Ashton, right, co-owner of McClean’s pub, scans the COVID-19 QR code of Evan Pasqualetto in Montreal, Wednesday, September 1, 2021, as the Quebec government’s COVID-19 vaccine passport comes into effect. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

In fact, after a grace period until Sept. 15, businesses and people in violation of the vaccine passport system could face thousands of dollars in fines unless they are under one of two exempt categories.

Those who are exempt only include people "with contraindications to vaccination against COVID-19" and individuals who participated in the local Medicago vaccine trial.

What will it look like?

People in Quebec can use a VaxiCode mobile app or present a PDF or use a paper form, if they print it themselves, to show proof of immunization.

Still, the provincial system has not come without worries. Mere hours after Quebec launched vaccine passports, hackers gained access to QR codes belonging to several politicians, including Premier Francois Legault. The situation has since been resolved.

What do provincial businesses think?

Requests for comment to the Quebec Chamber of Commerce and Industry were left unanswered.

A recent survey from the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal found 70 per cent of workers would be uncomfortable working with unvaccinated colleagues and 50 per cent don’t want to return without knowing their colleagues’ vaccine status.

“Vaccine passports were welcomed by the business community because they see it as a way to relaunch their businesses in a safe way,” Montreal’s Chamber said.


How will it work?

Amidst the province’s largest surge of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began over 18 months ago, Saskatchewan is walking back on its approach to vaccine passports, which it previously called “heavy-handed.”

A new mask mandate is coming as of Sept. 17; along with the Oct. 1 requirement of vaccine passports or negative coronavirus tests before entering most businesses.

What will it look like?


The province had previously said it was already developing QR codes for immunization records, which will soon be readily available to serve as vaccine passports.

Anyone with a MySaskHealthRecord digital account should be able to get their QR code by the end of September, according to the province’s health records department.

What do provincial businesses think?

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce is torn on the issue — illustrating much of what their membership thinks.

The Chamber found 43 per cent of businesses in the province want vaccine passports and 41 per cent are opposed to it.

“It’s already taking up way more oxygen on discussion than it needs to,” the business group’s CEO Steve McLellan said. “We should be wanting more people to just go get vaccinated instead of discussing whether to get vaccine passports or not. Perhaps the feds should be stepping in here.”


How will it work?


The Yukon government will provide residents of all ages with a “vaccine credential” to travel outside the province. 

However, there is no mandate required to display this proof of immunization in the province — at businesses or otherwise.


What will it look like?

The credential will be a way to replace the handwritten cards given out when Yukoners get vaccinated. 

It will be available over the phone and by mail, or provided readily in PDF form for anyone who requests for it online. The credential will display a QR code, along with some primary personal details.

What do provincial businesses think?

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce said vaccine passports “will be beneficial to many businesses, as they seem acceptable to all sectors and will allow broader public or customer access.”

However, the business group added, every province and territory has been “on their own to develop” such protocols.

“This is inefficient and unproductive,” the Yukon Chamber said. “The federal government should be leading this and should have developed a national vaccine passport program and guidelines. Individual provinces and territories could adjust their guidelines and rules, but the passport and verification should be national or universal.”