Ottawa in talks with provinces, territories over ‘proof of vaccination’ passport for international travel

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says Ottawa is in talks with the provinces and territories about creating some type of “passport” containing proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Speaking on Tuesday, LeBlanc says while health information falls under provincial jurisdiction, Ottawa’s goal is to provide Canadians with a document to verify vaccinations against the coronavirus if they want to travel outside Canada.

“The idea would be to find the best, common secure platform for Canadians who want to have proof of vaccination in the context of international travel,” he said.

LeBlanc says the government may provide Canadians who want to travel soon an interim document to verify vaccinations.

“The urgency of coming up with a secure, reliable, probably digital proof of vaccination is something that we’re working on collaboratively with provinces,” LeBlanc added.

“There may have to be a transitional measure, for example if there’s a phased adjustment for borders in July or maybe August.”

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LeBlanc says Canadians can expect information within days on how the federal government intends to re-open the Canadian border to international travel.

But he says a re-opening will be phased in gradually.

“We’ll have more to say in the coming days about a phased-in approach at the border.”

Non-essential travel into and out of Canada has been severely restricted since March 2020 in response to the pandemic, even though tens of thousands of people have crossed border points since then – most of them essential workers such as commercial truck drivers.

The reopening is expected to be a long, gradual process and the first steps would likely allow for smoother cross-border travel for people who are fully immunized.

The renewal date for the current border restrictions between the U.S. and Canada is six days away, set to expire on June 21.

Ontario announced on Monday that it’s lifting restrictions at water and land borders allowing for interprovincial travel between Quebec and Manitoba.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says the order will expire at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday and those entering Ontario must “continue to follow the public health measures in place in the province.”

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