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A pharmacist draws up a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto on June 18.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Ontario’s big city mayors are jointly calling on the province to establish a vaccine certification system.

The group of municipal leaders, representing cities with nearly 70 per cent of Ontario’s population, say a proof-of-vaccination system would help businesses and event spaces open more safely and encourage people to get vaccinated.

They believe such a system could help mitigate a fourth wave of COVID-19.

Premier Doug Ford has so far refused to implement one, saying he doesn’t want to have a split society.

The federal government has announced it will create a vaccine passport for international travel, and the province has said individual businesses are welcome to accept it -- or the provincial vaccination receipt -- if they want to require proof of vaccination.

Ontario reported 510 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, with more than 80 per cent in people who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and four more deaths.

The Ministry of Health says two of the deaths occurred more than two months ago.

There are 111 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19-related critical illness and Health Minister Christine Elliott says just three are fully vaccinated, though the vaccination status isn’t known for about half of the patients.

Friday’s new cases are based on more than 23,500 tests completed in the previous day. More than half of them are in people aged 20 to 39.

About 48,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered over the past day, for a total of more than 20 million.

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