Economists at Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada’s second-largest lender, are warning provinces that refuse to implement vaccine passports will be hit hardest by a fourth-wave of COVID-19 cases.

Beata Caranci, the bank’s chief economist,  said her group could cut its fourth-quarter forecasts for Ontario and other provinces that don’t have plans to limit high-risk activities for people who are not vaccinated. That’s because those regions are more likely to resort to lockdowns or other restrictions on business activity.

“Provinces who are more proactive in putting in measures that increase confidence in going to restaurants and concerts might do better than provinces who aren’t putting these measures in,” Caranci said by phone.

That means Quebec’s economy could outperform Ontario’s because the French-speaking province is implementing a domestic passport system on Sept. 1 that would ban unvaccinated patrons from gyms and bars.  Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has so far resisted calls to implement a passport system. 

Vaccine passports could also keep overall confidence high among consumers and businesses, according to Caranci.

“Are you taking every means possible to make sure your business stays open during this wave as vaccines buffer against hospitalization risk,” she said. “Those provinces doing that put themselves in a better position than those who don’t.” 

Besides Quebec, British Columbia will require proof of vaccination starting Sept. 13 for people attending certain social and recreational activities. Oil-rich Alberta has ruled out a vaccine passport while other provinces are still undecided.

Nearly 75 per cent of eligible Canadians are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data compiled by CTV News, but rates vary by province. Alberta and Saskatchewan, another energy-producing province, are laggards, with just under 70 per cent fully inoculated.  

In the U.S., counties with higher vaccination rates are experiencing stronger economic growth than jurisdictions with fewer jabs.