While Canada hasn’t officially introduced COVID-19 certificates, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says they are “naturally to be expected” when it comes to navigating the pandemic.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday (April 27), Trudeau fielded more questions about Canada’s status in adapting a vaccine passport system and plan for reopening to tourists elsewhere in the world that are fully vaccinated.
“Once the time is right, we will open up the borders again – properly – perhaps with necessary vaccination certificates…but we’re not yet at this point,” Trudeau said, speaking in French. “We need to ensure that when the time comes, we do things right to continue to ensure that Canadians are safe.”
Trudeau’s remarks come as both the United States and the European Union enter discussions about rebooting non-essential international travel.
On Monday (April 26), the EU confirmed that its 27-country bloc is in talks with the U.S. about a plan to develop a Digital Green Certificate that will serve as a COVID-19 passport.
EU officials say only the U.S. alone is part of the current talks and that its members countries are still ironing out details.
The goal of the EU’s certificate will be to provide proof that a person has been vaccinated, results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet, and information on one’s COVID-19 recovery.
G7 countries have agreed to coordinate a plan for the development of a vaccine passport – and that includes participation from Canada.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu has previously stated that Canada is supporting a plan to develop a vaccine travel certificate that is consistent with other countries.
Canada lagging behind?
Trudeau has already pointed out that demonstrating proof of vaccination when travelling to certain countries is a concept that has existed for some time.
But Trudeau has been cool to the idea of implementing such a system on the domestic level in Canada, telling reporters in March that vaccine passports can be discriminatory towards individuals who can’t receive a vaccine or simply choose to refuse one.
A journalist on Tuesday pointed out that Canada, under Trudeau’s timeline, is roughly five months away from having every Canadian adult who wants a vaccine to be able to be fully vaccinated.
It raises the question if Canadians, without a system in place, will be at a disadvantage as the U.S. and EU forges ahead with a certification plan and if every traveller who comes to Canada will, indeed, require a full vaccination.
The takeaway was that Trudeau isn’t there yet as the PM stressed that he is focused on getting Canadians through the third wave of COVID-19.
However: “We continue to plan for how we reopen the economy, the borders and how we get back to normal, which is something all Canadians want to do,” Trudeau said.
“As was the case pre-pandemic, certificates of vaccination are a part of international travel to certain regions and are naturally to be expected when it comes to this pandemic.”
As to how Canada will roll out such as plan, it will involve being “aligned with partners around the world” and based on science, Trudeau said, without providing a timeline.
Delays in rapid tests
Trudeau on Tuesday also addressed reports of long delays in processing the results of government-led rapid tests for people in quarantine, from travellers to health care workers.
One reporter claimed that some results were taking up to 26 days to process.
“I’m very concerned by this situation,” Trudeau said. “I’ve asked my team and ministers to look very closely at what’s going on with the companies who process the results of the rapid tests.”
Trudeau also added that officials are changing the day on which people in quarantine must undergo their second COVID-19 test, moving it from Day 10 to Day 8 to “allow for earlier results.”
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