Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can’t say when Canadians will see an official system that will enable them to show formal proof of their COVID-19 vaccine status while travelling abroad.
But whatever program the Trudeau government comes up with, it will be both “simple and efficient," the PM says.
The PM spoke on the issue, vaguely, at a press conference held in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on Tuesday (July 27).
While Trudeau was unable to reveal an official launch date, he said the framework for vaccine certificates for international travel will be Ottawa’s responsibility.
As for showing proof of vaccination on the domestic level, that task will be left to the provinces to figure out, he said.
“The federal government will be involved in the international level of certification, so we have a role to play to make sure that the credentials that Canadians have are going to be able to be accepted around the world but there are lots of active conversations with the provinces on what exact form that will take,” Trudeau was quoted as saying, as reported by CTV News.
Last month, Trudeau indicated that a national certification of vaccination system that “will be easily accepted around the world for people who need to travel internationally” would be in use by fall, as PAX reported at the time.
That timeline, however, has possibly changed as Trudeau, yesterday, could not say if a program would be in place by the end of the year.
His response to media was that “the conversations are active and ongoing.”
“The ability to travel around the world, indeed the ability to do more things and mostly the ability to avoid spikes that are going to come with the potential next arrival of variants and the spikes we’re seeing around the Delta variant in unvaccinated Canadians is something that we can prevent,” he was quoted as saying.
Canadians abroad, currently, are required to upload images of their completed vaccination receipts into the ArriveCAN app, prior to boarding their flight home, if they want to forgo quarantine on arrival.
Still, Ottawa is facing increased pressure to get moving on an official vaccine certification system as other countries – notably in Europe – resume their travel activities using health verification systems of their own.
The issue of travelling abroad with mixed vaccines is also a growing concern among Canadians who were encouraged to take the first vaccine that was offered to them – even if the brands differed.
Some citizens, for instance, received the AstraZeneca vaccine and were urged to get a second dose of Moderna – and some countries and cruise lines, currently, are not accepting cocktails of that kind.
European countries, for example, do not recognize the Indian-made Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (made at the Serum Institute of India) – a dosage also known as Covishield.
As PAX reported earlier this month, some 272,000 Canadians received at least one dose of Covishield and within that group, those who intend on travelling internationally may find themselves facing quarantine or other restrictions upon arrival in some countries.
This week, in a letter, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones asked the federal government to work with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that Canadians with mixed doses won’t face any hassles while travelling internationally.
“We ask the Government of Canada to work with the WHO to update its guidance to international partners that mixing vaccines should be internationally accepted as a complete vaccine regimen,” they wrote in a letter to addressed to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and others on Sunday (July 25).
Meanwhile, the Quebec government is taking a slightly different approach by offering a third dose of mRNA vaccines to those who want to travel to countries that don't recognize their vax status.
In an interview with CBC, a spokesman for the Health Department said that receiving a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine doesn't necessarily provide more protection compared with two doses as there are no studies to back up that claim.
“It’s up to everyone to weigh the balance of risks and benefits,” spokesperson Robert Maranda told CBC.