Daniel Therrien

Courtesy CBC

Any move by the federal government to bring in a vaccine passport would be a breach of the Privacy Act, says Canada’s privacy commissioner.

“There must be clear legal authority for introducing use of vaccine passports for each intended purpose,” Daniel Therrien said in a statement.

“It is an encroachment on civil liberties,” wrote Therrien, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

Mandating vaccine passports for Canadians who choose to travel or attend public facilities would require “a newly enacted public health order or law,” he said.

“A vaccine passport can take a number of different forms such as a digital certificate presented on a smartphone app or a paper certificate, but it essentially functions to provide an individual with a verified means of proving they are vaccinated in order to travel or gain access to services or locations,” wrote Therrien.

“A vaccine passport presumes individuals will be required or requested to disclose personal health information, their vaccine status, in exchange for goods, services or access to certain premises.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last January 14 called vaccine passports an “extreme measure” and said cabinet would never enact any scheme that compelled Canadians to get vaccinated.

“I think the indications that the vast majority of Canadians are looking to get vaccinated will get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country,” said Trudeau.

“I think it’s an interesting idea but I think it is also fraught with challenges. We are certainly encouraging and motivating people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. We always know there are people who won’t get vaccinated, and not necessarily through a personal or political choice.

“There are medical reasons. There are a broad range of reasons why someone might not get vaccinated. I’m worried about creating undesirable effects in our community.”

Cabinet introduced regulations January 7 under the Aeronautics Act requiring any citizen returning from abroad to prove they are COVID-19-free before boarding an aircraft. The mandatory COVID-19 test on February 22 was extended to drivers arriving at land borders.

Federal research shows about 12% of Canadians would refuse a vaccine even if it was locally available. Twenty-six percent said they did not trust the Public Health Agency, according to Statistics Canada.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief

Dave Naylor is News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief of the Western Standard based in the Calgary Headquarters. He served as City Editor of the Calgary Sun & covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years.

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