Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday August 11, 2021
Get set for a Ford reversal about vaccine passports
Pressure is growing — pretty much daily — on the Ontario government to mandate vaccine passports, or at least some form of vaccine certificate.
So far, Premier Doug Ford and his ministers remain adamant they won’t go there. But that is exactly what Ford said about paid sick days and we all remember what happened on that front. Public pressure from just about every quarter eventually forced Ford to reverse himself. Yes, he tried to blame the federal government, but the truth is he should have yielded to widespread calls for paid sick days long before he eventually buckled.
It says here, along with many other pulpits of punditry, that Ford will end up doing the same thing on vaccine passports. He won’t have a choice.
Not everyone agrees that passports (or a certificate) are essential. Respected co-medical director of infection control at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Dr. Zain Chagla, has said there are a “litany of ethical and legal privacy issues” that are “difficult to wrangle within that context.” (He does support a vaccine passport being implemented for international travel.) Chagla says he has nothing against passports, but doubts they will succeed as a standalone measure, without other measures like raising vaccination rates also at play.
Fair enough. Credible voices should be heard. But a growing chorus is calling for passports/certificates. The Ontario Medical Association and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario support them. All Ontario’s opposition parties agree. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) backs the idea. Manitoba has issued vaccination cards and Quebec just announced it will introduce passports.
Even the Ontario Chamber of Commerce — not exactly an advocate of state intervention — agrees.
In an interview with Torstar’s Rob Ferguson, chamber president Rocco Rossi said: “The last thing anyone wants is to be shut down, but that’s what will happen if we don’t use every tool in the tool kit … It’s about mitigating risk as much as possible. We are going to be living with this for a while.”
With respect to credible dissenters, we think the majority is right on this subject. Vaccine passports are no panacea, but they are one more arrow in the quiver as we get set to fight it out with a fourth wave.
Passports would allow those who are fully vaccinated to come closer to a normal life. They would allow vaccinated patrons and staff at places like restaurants and gyms to feel safer and more likely to take part in a robust economic recovery. Proof of vaccination would allow businesses and institutions (concert venues and the like) to only allow fully vaccinated people (or those with a negative test) to take part. Conversely, fully vaccinated patrons could choose to avoid businesses and institutions that do not have proof of vaccine requirements.
To a point, that will happen regardless of whether the government does this or not. But leaving it to individual businesses and organizations is a recipe for inconsistency and possibly disaster. The government must do it to ensure a level playing field.
Premier Ford, sadly, does not agree. He has said a “hard no” to reconsidering the idea, insisting it will create a “split society.”
But if you want proof that is just deflection, consider that Ford also says the federal government should implement proof of vaccination requirements. So it’s clear Ford’s ideological objection to passports/certificates are not particularly strong, he just doesn’t want to be the one to do it. Too bad. The feds will need to be involved from the international travel perspective, but pandemic management is a provincial responsibility. Ford cannot continue to duck his on this issue. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)