Provinces’ vaccine passports could get federal certification for international travel
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Sept. 3, 2021

Provinces’ vaccine passports could get federal certification for international travel

MISSISSAUGA — Justin Trudeau says the Liberal party is open to working with the provinces to certify provincial vaccine passports for use for international travel.

Trudeau made the pledge from the campaign trail on Friday, as Canada headed into its last long weekend of the summer.

The potential for the feds to piggyback on the province’s vaccine passports may expedite travel’s recovery, but not every province has committed to vaccine passports yet.

And what about that fall 2021 timeline for the cross-Canada system of proof of vaccination to help restart international travel?

Provincial vaccine passports, facilitating entry to everything from restaurants and bars to movies, gyms, and concerts – depending on the province – are now up and running in Quebec (Sept. 1) and Manitoba (Sept. 3), and coming soon to B.C. (Sept. 13) and Ontario (Sept. 22). Meanwhile several provinces are looking at proof of vaccination for some activities, even if it’s not called a vaccine passport, while a few others have so far rejected the concept outright.

While provincial vaccine passports for day-to-day activities and venues have been the focus in recent weeks, back in June 2021 Trudeau said Canadians could expect to see a cross-Canada system of proof of vaccination to help restart international travel by potentially fall 2021.

The first track of Canada’s 2-track proof of vaccination system for international travel, allowing travellers to use Canada’s ArriveCAN app to upload vaccination certification, is already up and running.

During Friday’s stop on the campaign trail, Trudeau was asked when Canadians can expect to see that cross-Canada system of proof of vaccination for international travel.

In his response Trudeau noted that the provincial governments have people’s health data, not the federal government. “So on any federal initiative [the federal government] would need to work extremely closely with the provinces to either get those medical records, or at least get that approval or that information that says yes, this individual has been vaccinated,” he said.

Trudeau added that for those provinces that have stepped up with vaccine passports, the Liberals would “add a federal element of certification so you can show it at international airports around the world and use it for international travel. It is an interim measure that will be very good for the next year or so, easily.”

Late last month Trudeau promised $1 billion to the provinces to help with the costs of bringing in provincial vaccine passports.

With all the focus on the provinces, many in the travel industry – and anyone looking to travel this winter – may be wondering what happened to the fall 2021 timeline for the cross-Canada vaccine passport for travel?

In his response on Friday, Trudeau also said “we will be bringing in that more formalized version in the coming months or a year perhaps”, while acknowledging that “the priority is giving people a solid document that will allow them to do both things, both engage provincially in local businesses, knowing that they’re safe from the people at the next table, and travel internationally with something robust enough and approved by the government of Canada, that will be accepted at airports around the world.”