Ontario's vaccine ‘passport': What you need to know about the certificate, fines and exemptions

·4-min read

The Ontario government provided additional details on the province's upcoming proof of vaccination system. 

The rollout will occur in two different stages in September and October. Beginning on Sept. 22, Ontarians with a green health card will have to print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal. Those with a red and white health card can call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900. 

Ontarians will have to show vaccine proof, and a piece of photo ID to access the following settings:

  • Indoor areas of restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments

  • Indoor and outdoor areas of food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs

  • Indoor areas of meeting and event spaces

  • Indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, including waterparks and gyms

  • Indoor areas of casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments

  • Indoor areas of concert venues, theatres, and cinemas

  • Indoor areas of bathhouses, sex clubs and strip clubs

  • Indoor areas of horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues

  • Indoor areas where commercial film and TV productions take place with studio audiences

On Oct. 22, the "enhanced vaccine certificate" will be available for Ontarians, with a scannable QR code, and the verification app will be available for businesses as well. Following this date, individuals can continue to use the printed version.

A man wearing a face mask receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in Mel Lastman Square in Toronto, Canada, on July 24, 2021. The City of Toronto kicked off a weekend-long vaccination clinic here on Saturday, welcoming walk-ins to anyone aged 12 and older for the COVID-19 vaccinations. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images)
A man wearing a face mask receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in Mel Lastman Square in Toronto, Canada, on July 24, 2021. The City of Toronto kicked off a weekend-long vaccination clinic here on Saturday, welcoming walk-ins to anyone aged 12 and older for the COVID-19 vaccinations. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Are there any exemptions?

Individuals can get a medical exemption that will allow them enter all settings without proof of vaccination in Ontario.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, indicated on Tuesday that she expects there to be a limited number of people that will have this exemption.

"Generally speaking, there are very few acceptable medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination (e.g., an allergist/immunologist-confirmed severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components that cannot be mitigated; a diagnosed episode of myocarditis/pericarditis after receipt of an mRNA vaccine)," guidance from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario reads.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province's chief medical officer of health, stressed that the registrar from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requires that anyone issuing an exemption "must put the exact reason for medical exemption, as well as the duration that that medical exemption should be in place, as well as identify yourself and your college identification."

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"There are forms that will standardize this for nurse practitioners, as well as physicians, and a standardized exemption format," Dr. Moore said. "If there is abuse of this...there may be professional discipline for them and if there's fraud, there is a process through the reopening of Ontario act enforcement that can deal with the fraud aspect."

Each individual's medical exemption will be embedded into the QR code when the enhanced vaccine certificate is available.

We know that there are some people that aren't able to receive the vaccine, we don't want them to be turned away from establishments.Christine Elliott, Ontario Health Minister

She did add that it could be possible for individuals to forge written letters for medical exemptions, particularly before the digital version is implemented, but did not express significant concern about that happening once the QR codes are in place, even though a paper version of proof of vaccination will still be accepted.

Additionally, between Sept. 22 and Oct. 13, individuals may provide proof of a negative antigen test to attend an indoor social gathering specifically associated with a wedding service, rite or ceremony, or a funeral service, rite or ceremony in certain meeting or event spaces.

How will the proof of vaccination system be enforced?

Elliott confirmed on Tuesday that bylaw enforcement officers will be monitoring the implementation and execution of the proof of vaccination system.

For anyone working at a business who is in a situation where they "feel threatened" while trying to verify a patron's vaccination status, the deputy premier said they should call 911.

"If there are any businesses that are concerned that when they refuse entry to a restaurant, a gym, or whatever it happens to be, that if at any point they feel threatened, we want them to call 911 as soon as possible to make sure that police officers can be there to assist," Elliott said. "We want to make sure that everyone conforms to these rules."

When asked if she's concerned about the volume of calls that may come in to police, Elliott said she does not anticipate that there will be a lot of demand there.

Under the Reopening Ontario Act, fines for individuals who do not comply start at $750.

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