Good morning. Wendy Cox in Vancouver here.
For 84 per cent of B.C.’s population, carrots were good enough. That’s the percentage of the eligible population that had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by last Monday, a choice they’d made in hopes of the reward of living with a little less worry of getting sick or making those around them sick.
Monday was the day B.C.’s Public Health Officer introduced a stick. On Monday, Bonnie Henry announced that anyone wanting to go to a pub, a restaurant, a movie theatre, a sporting event, a concert or to enjoy a similar pleasure would have to be able to show that they were vaccinated. The province is coming up with a digital proof of vaccination, a type of passport that can be shown to such establishments to gain entry.
The next day, B.C. started seeing a surge in people making appointments to get the jab.
As Alex Cyr reports today, since B.C. health officials announced the creation of the province’s vaccine card on Aug. 23, registrations to receive first doses tripled in residents under the age of 40, going from 4,161 appointments on Monday and Tuesday of the previous week to 12,904 appointments this past Monday and Tuesday.
B.C.’s rules followed similar announcements in Quebec, where the daily number of first doses given climbed from 5,437 on Aug. 5, the day Premier François Legault revealed the provincial passport, to 8,162 two weeks later.
In that time period, daily first doses administered in Quebec increased by 50 per cent, while Ontario’s rate of first doses stayed flat and Alberta’s decreased by 3 per cent.
On Friday, Manitoba joined Quebec and B.C. and Prince Edward Island in announcing the vaccine passport as a tool to tame a growing fourth wave and to keep businesses and schools open.
None of those provinces require the passport for access to essential services such as education or health care.
Quebec Health Ministry spokesman Robert Maranda said the province saw a rise in vaccination rates across all age groups since the Aug. 5 announcement, with the 12-29 demographic showing the biggest increase in uptake.
“We’re really satisfied with the response,” he said. Quebec has now vaccinated 76 per cent of all its eligible residents with at least one dose, and 68 per cent with two.
“When we’re talking about young adults, for sure we saw a boost there. … They understand the importance of being vaccinated, and they don’t want to be denied a social life.”
Ontario is now planning to implement one, sources have told The Globe and Mail.
The introduction of a vaccine-certificate system would be a major reversal for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who has publicly rejected the idea and said it would create a “split society.”
Alberta has rejected any suggestion of a vaccine passport. But on Thursday, the province said it would provide Albertans who have had the jab with a “conveniently sized paper card.” People can download the cards by mid-September and they can print them or store them on a personal digital device. But a spokesman for Alberta Health told CTV News that these should not be mistaken for a vaccine passport.
“The decision on whether and how to use their own personal health information is up to each Albertan, subject to any requirements set by businesses or other organizations,” spokesman Chris Bourdeau told CTV.
Canada will soon be blanketed with patchwork requirements to prove vaccination. Aside from the provincial documents issued by those that have already announced them, more and more retail businesses, corporations, pro sports teams and universities are demanding proof of vaccination – for employees returning to the workplace, for students, and for people attending everything from bars to NHL games.
The growing list includes all the major banks, Rogers, Air Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Blue Jays, the University of Alberta, Carleton University and the University of Toronto.
In an editorial, the Globe calls on whoever forms the government in the coming election to get on with the task of creating a national standard.
“The provinces appear to be willing to co-operate. In B.C., Premier John Horgan said his province’s vaccine card is just an interim measure until a federal version arrives. The Ford government long ago dug in its heels, but also made it clear that it would be happy if Ottawa rescued it from the corner it painted itself into. And as for Quebec, it would surely be pleased to see its model chosen as the national standard.
“What is Ottawa waiting for?”
This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.