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 new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

An Armstrong family that lost their home to a fire on Wednesday still hasn’t found their cat as of Friday, June 18, 2021. (Facebook photo)
Family cat still missing, days after fire destroys Armstrong home

There were no injuries from Wednesday’s blaze, but two days later there’s still no sign of the white feline

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Most Read