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Vaccine Passports Are Confirmed In 10 Provinces & Territories But Some Are Much More Strict

More and more provinces are adopting vaccine passports, whether they're called that explicitly or not.

Ten provinces have confirmed that they will use proof of vaccination systems, but the specifics of each program can differ by quite a bit — in some places, for instance, the systems aren't even mandatory.

Whether it's in the organizations affected, the exemptions available or the fines for not following the rules, each province is choosing a different approach when it comes to implementing a vaccine passport.

Alberta

Alberta is one of the latest provinces to bring proof of vaccination to its residents, however, the system is a bit different than in other provinces. Alberta's vaccine certificates aren't mandatory, but they allow businesses and customers to be exempt from the province's strict new public health measures.

The exemption program is open for restaurants, retail shops, nightclubs and wedding venues, as well as any adult sport, fitness, performance, and recreation spot.

The program begins on September 20. Those who cannot supply proof of vaccination can either provide documentation of a medical exemption or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

British Columbia

B.C. has had vaccine passports in place since September 13, and anyone in the province can now access the government's website to get their own proof of vaccination.

You'll need it for lots of places in the province, such as indoor concerts, sporting events, recreational facilities, indoor and outdoor dining, nightclubs, casinos and movie theatres.

The province's fines are pretty steep; if you show up to a non-compliant event, you could be on the hook for a $575 violation ticket. Businesses that host such events, however, could be fined $2,300.

The biggest difference between B.C.'s vaccine passport and those of other provinces is that B.C. says there are absolutely no exemptions allowed — whether medical or religious — except for children under the age of 12.*

Manitoba

Manitoba's proof of vaccination system was the second implemented in Canada on September 3.

In a press release issued on August 27, the province announced that if Manitobans want to eat indoors at a restaurant or on a patio, attend indoor or outdoor ticketed events (like sports games or concerts), go to movie theatres or casinos or participate in organized indoor recreational activities, they'll need proof of vaccination.

Manitoba says that those who are 11 years old and under will not be required to show proof of vaccination to attend the aforementioned activities, but they'll need to attend with a fully immunized adult.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Health Minister John Haggie told reporters on September 15 that the province's upcoming vaccine passport will not be mandatory, according to CTV.

Haggie reportedly said that the system would use the same technology as Quebec's vaccine passport system but would in fact be completely voluntary – unless recommendations from public health are that a certain area requires mandatory proof of vaccination.

New Brunswick

On September 15, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announced that the province would be implementing vaccine passports as of 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21.

Proof of vaccination will be required for indoor festivals, performing arts and sporting events; indoor dining, restaurants and pubs; theatres and casinos; indoor pools and gyms, and indoor group fitness activities. Medical exemptions are allowed but New Brunswickers will have to provide proof of said exemption in order to bypass proof of vaccination.

New Brunswick is also requiring proof of vaccination to skip a self-isolation period when entering the province.

"Enforcement officers will be monitoring compliance," Higgs said.

According to Global News, people coming to New Brunswick with false proof of vaccination records or without any proof at all could face fines from $172.50 to $772.50.

Nova Scotia

Despite not using the term "vaccine passport," Nova Scotia's proof of vaccination system looks similar to those in other provinces.

Proof of vaccination will be required for residents going to restaurants, movie theatres and gyms as of October 4, 2021.

"Requiring proof of vaccination to participate in activities that are discretionary, recreational or non-essential means we can bring large groups of people together safely," Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in an announcement on September 8. "This gives us the best chance of staying open once we're open. We do not want to shut the province down again."

Strang also called the policy a "time-limited measure."

The policy is only in effect for those 12 years old and older, and the province said a process is being developed to grant exemptions to people who can't get vaccinated because of a "valid medical or behavioural reason."

Ontario

Ontarians are close to the province's vaccine passport system coming into effect. As of September 22, it'll be required for cinemas, indoor restaurants, indoor sporting events, indoor waterparks, indoor sports and recreational facilities and strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs.

Individuals can be fined $750 for not complying with the rules, and that also applies to people who are caught providing fake documents. Businesses and organizations that don't follow the rules can be fined $1,000.

You don't need to show proof of vaccination in Ontario if you're attending a wedding or funeral between September 22 and October 12 (you can get tested instead) or if you have a medical exemption, are under 12, or if you are under 18 and entering an indoor facility to play sports.

Quebec

The first province to adopt vaccine passports, Quebec's system has been in place since September 1.

The list of businesses that must follow the system is extensive and includes outdoor events, fairs, craft shows, theatres, cinemas, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and casinos.

Fines are quite high in Quebec for not following the rules. Refusing to use the vaccine certificate system can land you with a fine of anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000, and manipulating or fabricating a vaccine passport can lead to criminal charges, according to the province's health minister.

Those who cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 can get a doctor to issue a QR code that can be used in lieu of proof of vaccination. According to the province, that special QR code can be issued to someone who has a confirmed allergy to all COVID-19 vaccines available in Quebec or who is affected by myocarditis or pericarditis following vaccination.

Saskatchewan

On Thursday, September 16, Premier Scott Moe announced Saskatchewan would be implementing a vaccine passport system in October.

The system will be in place in venues with congregating people, like restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms and ticketed sporting events. It won't be required for hotels, weddings, funerals or publicly accessible places like grocery stores, places of worship or health care services.

The Saskatchewan government said it would be issuing the certificate as a QR code, to be launched in the week of September 20, and children under the age of 12 will be exempt from the program.

Yukon

Yukon's vaccine passports are much more different than the rest of Canada's. According to Premier Sandy Silver, Yukon will be providing "secure" proof of vaccination for residents, but not implementing any vaccine mandates within the province itself.

"There is not currently any need for any vaccine mandates at this point," Silver said, referring to Yukon's high vaccine uptake.

Private businesses, however, can use the credentials so that they don't have to "rely on the honour system," the premier said.

"It's up to the individual to decide if they wish to share their proof of COVID-19 vaccination credentials," he added.

Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on the vaccines and can answer any questions you may have. Click here for more information.

*This article has been updated.

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