When Justin Trudeau called the 44th election, he stated that it was necessary for Canadians to determine how to end the fight against COVID-19.
He was discussing vaccinations, vaccination laws, and passports.
So far, different provinces have taken different tactics, which is causing more uncertainty than division.
The Saskatchewan Government recently announced a voluntary vaccine passport system, where venues and municipalities “may” ask for proof of vaccination.
Regina’s Rebellion Brewing owner Mark Heise told Global News he supports the measure and businesses who have enacted their own policies, though he believes it should be up to the government to enact the policy.
“There’s a bit of an issue there for small businesses,” he said.
“First of all, we’re not experts in public health. We are not experts in how to verify proof of vaccination, proof of medical history.”
But he said that “could be easily solved if the government would take on their role of administering public health and safety for all of its citizens,”
For now, he said he’s waiting to see what the government does.
Colin Hill, co-owner of Bodhi Tree Yoga in Regina, took a different approach.
He and his staff began requiring clients to show them proof-of-vaccination in July.
He told Global News the yoga studio leadership decided to enact the measure because some of their clients are older and because they’ve always “gone out of our way to take every precaution we could think of to make people safe and feel more relaxed when they’re here.”
Requiring proof of vaccination, he said, is an extension of that. He told Global News all of the studio’s customers have been in favour.
But he said having a standardized method would be better.
“We are just rolling with those little cards from the nurse when you got your jab or a screenshot from your e-health (account).”
The Liberal Party of Canada has promised to help with that.
If elected, the grits say they’ll make vaccines mandatory for federal workers and anyone working in federally-regulated sectors, like air travel.
That also applies to passengers.
Justin Trudeau has promised to divide one billion dollars among the provinces to help them create their own passports systems or to bolster the existing systems.
And on Aug. 11, Immigration Minister and Liberal MP Marco Mendicino announced the federal government will create vaccine passports for international travel.
The NDP have said they like the Liberal’s plan, though they want it done sooner and in coordination with unions.
Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole has said his party will enact a different approach.
If elected, the Tories would require unvaccinated Canadians to show recent negative tests or pass a rapid test to travel and for federal employees to go to work.
Health care falls under provincial jurisdiction and merging provincial and federal plans — on whether passports are needed for essential or non-essential businesses, for example — can be complicated.
A public policy expert told Global News it is too important, and too nebulous a matter to leave to a political popularity contest.
“It begs for a situation where you have federal-provincial conversations about this inside parliament, (where) you have multi-party conversations about this, and (where) you do not make it into a partisan issue,” Ken Coates, of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, said.
Creating an effective, and thus uniform, method would be difficult even during normal political periods, he argued, let alone during a pandemic election.
“A lot of the decisions are made by the provinces. Are we going to change that in the middle of a pandemic? I don’t believe so, for the simple fact that each province has its own culture, values system, and set of expectations, as well as its own decision-making processes.”