As British Columbia lays out plans to shed COVID-19 restrictions, the person who ensures fair access to government resources is calling for caution. (AP/Matt Dunham)

As British Columbia lays out plans to shed COVID-19 restrictions, the person who ensures fair access to government resources is calling for caution. (AP/Matt Dunham)

B.C. ombudsperson urges caution if governments adopt COVID-19 vaccine passports

Governments must offer clear legislation or policy directions about how vaccine certifications are used, Jay Chalke urges

As British Columbia lays out plans to shed COVID-19 restrictions, the person who ensures fair access to government resources is calling for caution, especially when deciding who is eligible for relaunched services.

A statement from the office of B.C.’s ombudsperson says vaccination certification programs are being explored in B.C. and in jurisdictions across Canada.

Ombudsperson Jay Chalke says this raises concerns about provincial or local public services being limited based on vaccination status.

The organization representing the public advocates across Canada has released guidance about how so-called vaccination passports could affect receipt of services under its members’ jurisdiction such as municipal, health, education and other provincial ministries.

Chalke says fairness must be at the centre of any passport program and the national guidance document created by the Canadian Council of Parliamentary Ombudsman agrees.

It says passports must be open to appeal, alternative services must be available for those who have not been vaccinated and governments must offer clear legislation or policy directions about how vaccine certifications are used.

The mandate of a provincial or territorial ombudsman is to ensure people are treated fairly in the delivery of public services and Chalke says vaccine passports have the potential to “result in outcomes that are unreasonable, unfair and unjust.”

“Although we’re not seeing people having to provide vaccination status yet when receiving public services, we know given the highly dynamic nature of this pandemic that this kind of verification could potentially come into play in a variety of ways,” Chalke said in the statement.

If governments do decide to restrict access to services based on a person’s vaccination status, Chalke said the decision must be transparent, procedurally fair and clearly communicated.

Possible confusion created by vaccine passports will likely result in complaints to his office, he said.

He said he hopes the guidance issued by his colleagues across Canada will prevent unfairness by offering “proactive reminders” to governments.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

The City of White Rock turns 63 today. (file photo)
City of White Rock 2020 annual report available for review

Report to be discussed at June 28 council meeting

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of May 31

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read