Quebec to implement vaccine passport due to rising COVID-19 cases, premier says

Quebec plans to adopt a vaccine passport given a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the province, Premier François Legault announced Thursday.

The premier said Quebecers are on the cusp of a fourth wave of the pandemic and that a vaccine passport will be implemented as a response. On Thursday, the province recorded 305 new coronavirus cases — the highest daily increase since May 30, 2021 — but stated that 72 are "under investigation."

Legault said "certain privileges" will be extended to people who are adequately vaccinated against the virus, which has killed 11,240 people in Quebec since the start of the pandemic.

"Get your two doses … it’s the only way to end this pandemic," the premier said.

Health minsiter Christian Dubé is expected to announce more details about how the system will work in the coming days, as well as when it will be implemented. Previously, the government has said it would wait until the beginning of September to launch the vaccine passport, but only if the epidemiological situation deteriorated. 

At an announcement about daycare alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Legault said since cases are projected to rise in the coming weeks, the vaccine passport will be used "in order [for] people who made the effort to be vaccinated, that they are able to come back to a normal life."

The provincial government has always mantained that everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, will still have access to essential public services. Access to non-essential services, like gyms and restaurants, will likely be limited to adequately vaccinated people under the new initiative. 

BACK TO SCHOOL PLANS

Students who attend university, CEGEPs, and schools, however, will return to class in September, but with "conditions," Legault said. 

"We are still in discussion with public health, and we'll announce those conditions."

"We are revisiting that right now regarding the masks ... for children," said Legault, when asked whether children under the age of 12, who are not eligible for vaccination, will still be expected to return to class without masks.

On Wednesday, the ministry of health told CTV News that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Quebecers accounted for 92 per cent of new COVID-19 cases from July 1 to 24

"The purpose of the vaccine passport is to allow access to non-essential activities for properly vaccinated people," said Marie-Louise Harvey, a media relations officer for the ministry. "Its specific use will be determined according to the evolution of the epidemiological situation and the vaccination coverage in Quebec."

As of Thursday, 83 per cent of eligible Quebecers have been vaccinated with one dose, while 67 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. 

QUEBEC SOLIDAIRE WANTS DEBATE ON VACCINE PASSPORT

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson for Quebec Solidaire, said it is "very disappointing" that the Legault government sidestepped a "real public debate" on the roll-out on the vaccine passport at the National Assembly. 

"It is a measure that is not trivial and that should have been discussed in full transparency in Parliament, with experts," the MNA said in a written statement. 

"We are impatiently awaiting the details of this possible vaccine passport," he said, adding that protecting of personal data is paramount.

"I invite all Quebecers to get vaccinated as soon as possible, it is our best weapon against the virus and our main hope to finally put an end to this pandemic," he wrote. 

TRUDEAU SUPPORTS QUEBEC'S VACCINE PASSPORT

The prime minister said he supports Legault's plans to introduce the vaccine passport in response to the rising cases, telling the media "there are no more excuses" to wait to the get the vaccine since the country now has enough doses for every eligible Canadian. 

"We need to get vaccinated to get through this pandemic, particularly with the real concerns around the Delta variant that we are facing, that is striking hardest, obviously, on under-vaccinated and non-vaccinated people," Trudeau said. 

The federal government is also considering mandatory vaccinations for public servants. 

  COVID-19 CASES IN QUEBEC
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