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Ontario Premier Doug Ford takes part in a news conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, on Sept. 1.Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

Ontario’s premier is calling for unity after the federal election as his province prepares to introduce COVID-19 vaccine certificates.

Doug Ford congratulated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on winning Monday’s election in an open letter before saying it was a contentious campaign.

Ford says it was divisive election with candidates from all parties hotly debating pandemic policies.

Ontario’s premier says that “emotions have run high” over many issues, including vaccine certificates.

Ford says he knows many people are concerned about their civil liberties being impeded by the certificates that are set to be introduced Wednesday.

He says Ontarians must continue to do everything they can to protect the province’s hard-fought progress against the virus.

Certificates proving that a person has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be necessary to enter a gym, theatre, or dine inside a restaurant starting Wednesday.

Ontario COVID-19 numbers

Ontario is reporting 574 new cases of COVID-19 today and eight more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 434 of those cases are in people who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.

Elliott says 330 people are hospitalized with the virus, with 303 not fully vaccinated.

She says 179 people are in intensive care due to the virus, with only nine of those people fully vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health says that 85.2 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 12 have one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 79.2 per cent have two doses.

The latest figures come as Ontario gets ready to implement a vaccine certificate system tomorrow.

Doug Ford and health minister Christine Elliott announced on Wednesday that Ontarians will need to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before entering indoor restaurants, gyms, theatres and meeting halls. The plan comes into effect Sept. 22, at first using existing printed or e-mailed vaccine receipts and photo ID followed by the launch of a smartphone app and QR code expected mid-October.

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