As of September 1, 2021 anyone unvaccinated in the Canadian province of Quebec will have their ability to participate in activities deemed “non-essential” severely limited due to their reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated.
Digital proof via a provincially distributed smartphone application or paper documentation indicating vaccine status will now be required to take part in much of public life in Quebec from having a drink on a restaurant patio to participating in sporting events.
A list of “non-essential” activities published by the provincial government includes, dining out, attending a movie theatre or gym, participating in team sports or swimming in an indoor pool among a slew of other things.
Medical exemptions are being granted but only in very rare cases.
The implementation of the controversial policy comes after hundreds of angry protesters took to the streets of Montreal earlier this month to protest the implementation of what they see as the establishment of a two-tier system in Canada.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé says the vaccine passport system was implemented in an effort to combat a growing COVID-19 caseload and to address what he described as an “inevitable” fourth wave.
Many public health experts in Canada have welcomed the passport system, characterizing it as helpful in containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus as well as a way to encourage people to get vaccinated; however the system itself has already run into hurdles.
The smartphone application provided by the provincial government has allegedly already been hacked, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Quebec’s health department said in a statement that it was aware of reports that people had managed to steal quick response (QR) codes of members of the Quebec legislature adding that official police complaints have been filed.
Two prominent politicians, Premier François Legault and Health Minister Christian Dubé, both had their personal QR codes obtained by yet unknown hackers.
Legault’s office has stated that the QR codes do not contain any sensitive personal information other than “the name of the person, their birthday and the list of vaccines received.”
Quebec is the first Canadian province to implement a vaccine passport system with the provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba also having plans to implement vaccine passport systems of their own in the near future.