Quebec vaccine passport now in effect, but with doubts from critics

COVID vaccine passport

As of now, the Quebec vaccine passport is in effect. And it will be part of the necessary items you carry with you every day, such as your keys, wallet, cell phone and even your Medicare card. However, the passport, which is available in digital and paper formats, and will give fully vaccinated Quebecers the ability to partake in a wide variety of non-essential activities, is not without its critics.

Although Quebec is the first province in Canada to introduce and launch such a measure in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some experts in the public health field have their doubts about the passport system, especially when it deals with some of the adverse social effects it could cause. Kerry Bowman, who teaches bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, said in an interview that the passport could be a form of “coercion” to those who have been vaccinated, but originally didn’t want to. He also expressed his concerns that Quebec’s passport system may present a risk that it could push those unvaccinated individuals to the margins of society, which in turn could increase tensions between the public and the government.

“Now, look, is it justified under this difficult emergency that we’re in? I hope it is,” added Mr. Bowman.

Another group of people who are critical of the vaccine passport system are the three opposition parties in Quebec’s National Assembly, who stated that they wanted a debate on the matter in the assembly, so that experts in the field of science and ethics could have offered their opinions on the system’s scientific validity and the ethics behind it. However, Premier Francois Legault turned down that suggestion, saying that the new rules have been passed by decree. As well, the provincial government is still operating under a state of emergency, which permits them to introduce any new rule as quickly as possible without the need for any debate in the National Assembly. He added that he didn’t want to offer a forum for any conspiracy theorists.

Although other provinces such as Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia are considering to introduce their own vaccine passport systems in the near future, and countries such as Israel, and some major American cities like New York and San Francisco, have recently implemented similar vaccination credential systems of their own, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube still strongly advocates the need for the vaccination passport in the province, saying it’s like a “passport to freedom”. 

“People want to be vaccinated and they want to have a normal life. We went through hell in those first three waves (of the COVID-19 pandemic),” said Mr. Dube during a recent press conference.

And the numbers justify that need. The provincial government has stated that the majority of Quebecers support the system, with the province’s high vaccination rate as a means of proof for that support. Throughout Quebec, about 86 per cent of residents 12 years of age and over had a least one dose of the vaccine, with 79 per cent of those Quebecers having received both doses.

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