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Wednesday,  April 17, 2024 6:29 PM 

Vaccine passports can be discriminatory, says Trudeau, but Canada is looking into it anyway

Vaccine passports can be discriminatory, says Trudeau, but Canada is looking into it anyway
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on March 12, 2021.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

While the notion of Canada implementing a policy that would require travellers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, a concept otherwise known as a “vaccine passport,” is still up in the air, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged that such certificates can raise issues of discrimination. 

Speaking to media on Friday (March 12), Trudeau attempted to distinguished differences between domestic and international travel, suggesting that vaccine passports are regarded differently in each scenario.

Proof of vaccination for international travel is “something that has existed for a long time,” Trudeau said, speaking in French. “When you travel to certain countries, you need to demonstrate that you’ve been vaccinated for certain diseases. This is a well-established practice.”

There are countries around the world currently debating the merits of vaccine passports and “we’re among those countries,” Trudeau said.

READ MORE: EU proposing digital “green pass” for travel

This is not news, however, as Canada's Health Minister Patty Hajdu has previously said that Canada is actively investigating the idea of introducing vaccine passports. 

At the same time, on the question of mandating such a policy for domestic travel in Canada, “there are questions of fairness and justice that come into play,” the Prime Minister said.

“We need to think of people who, for medical reasons or for other circumstances, cannot or do not want to be vaccinated,” Trudeau said.

Barring non-vaccinated people from attending concerts or going to restaurants, for example, raises questions of equity and fairness, he said.

Trudeau reiterated that he isn’t ruling out the possibility of mandating a vaccine passport in some shape or form.

“I’m not excluding anything,” he said. “We’ll see how the next few months unfold.”

On reopening the border...

The Prime Minister also spoke on the reopening of the Canada-U.S. border, telling CTV News on Friday that the border will not reopen until vaccination rates and COVID-19 case counts reach levels that would make doing so safe for Canadians.

The Canada-U.S. land border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020. 

“We will see what vaccinations look like, we will see what case counts look like. We will listen to experts on when we can start easing restrictions, but the safety of Canadians needs to come first,” Trudeau told CTV.

“Even as Americans are getting lots of vaccines, we’re still seeing around 50,000 new cases a day in the United States,” he said. “Everyone looks forward to starting the travel again and we're certainly going to keep working closely with the United States as we have since the beginning of the pandemic. But the safety of Canadians is our single most and top priority.”

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