RNAO calls on Ontario and federal governments to implement vaccine passports to help reopen Canada

RNAO issued the following media release on August 5, 2021. See our earlier articles on vaccine passports here and here.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says a new temporary tool is needed in the fight against COVID-19: Vaccine passports.
During a board of directors meeting today (Aug. 5), the RNAO board passed unanimously a motion calling on the Ontario and federal governments to enact vaccine passports while keeping in mind equity and the security and privacy of individuals. The move is necessary as we transition out of the pandemic.  

“During this transition to reopening we should facilitate the resumption of certain non-essential activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, going to the gym, attending concerts and sporting events, and travelling – while keeping people safe. Having a secure passport will allow people who have received both doses of the vaccine to enjoy the things they have been missing out on for the past 17 months. We are facing dangerous variants and a fourth wave driven by those who aren’t vaccinated; a vaccine passport helps address that,” says RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth. 

RNAO’s board of directors passed the following motion:

  • Making sure that everyone has free access to vaccines, so the program should not commence before everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine, and has no medical exemption, has been able to fully vaccinate (two doses plus two weeks). 
  • Make all reasonable efforts to facilitate people to get vaccinated (such as culturally-sensitive education on vaccines; two paid sick days; vaccination sites at workplaces, malls and other places where people congregate).
  • Vaccination will not be required for access to essential and public services.
  • Children under 12, who are ineligible for vaccination, will be exempted from any restriction on access.
  • For long distance travel – bus, rail, airplane, ferry – vaccine passports may be required and alternatives such as recent testing shall be allowed for the unvaccinated.
  • Proper accommodation – such as a recent negative test – will be provided for those who cannot vaccinate due to medical exemption.
  • The passport is designed in consultation with privacy commissioners in such a way that privacy and protection of sensitive information is a top priority.
  • The passport should be built on trusted, secure technology, resistant to counterfeiting, and provide protection from government and private-sector surveillance.
  • Legal protection is provided to those non-essential businesses and services that choose to use the vaccine passport.
  • All the measures implemented shall be temporary – initially for a period of six months – while COVID-19 presents an acute threat to public health.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and our motion is an example of this. If the vaccine passport is implemented in the right way, we can address the equity and privacy concerns. I am so proud to work for a board that is calling for this bold and courageous action. Thousands of people have died from COVID-19 and people’s lives have been changed forever. We must address the fourth wave without lockdown measures. We must take this temporary step so people can resume their lives and the things they enjoy, while at the same time remain vigilant. In the meantime, nurses and other health-care providers will continue our fight against COVID-19 and its stubborn variants,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun.

As part of its call, RNAO says vaccine passports will encourage individuals and organizations to do all they can to remain safe and healthy.