Don’t forget about privacy when discussing vaccine passports, says N.B. ombud
FREDERICTON -- A COVID-19 vaccine passport or certificate, proving you’ve been immunized, so you can travel. Some surveys point to 80 per cent of Canadians being in favour. But there’s more to think about, says New Brunswick’s ombud.
“I certainly expect we’re going to see documents like this in some form,” said Charles Murray, the ombud of New Brunswick. “We are asking people about their medical history. That is a very private thing for all of us, and we’ve recognized for years, that’s amongst the most private things I can know about you, is your medical situation. If we’re going to do that, how do we build the best system to protect privacy within that constraint? Because the goal won’t be to protect privacy, the goal will be to protect public health.”
About 20 countries require an “International Certificate of Vaccination” proving the traveller has been immunized with the yellow fever vaccine.
Political leaders in N.B. say they’re not against the concept, but wonder if it will be necessary.
“If we are in a position where we’re in the same situation, let’s say in North America or between us, particularly Canada and the U.S., and we’re saying that our vaccine levels are all at this position, well – do we need a passport to travel around between our respective countries or provinces?” New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs asked. “But I think if we’re looking at international travel…I think for a while it’s something we should give serious thought of how we would continue to protect ourselves.”
Higgs said he expects the conversation will be brought up in future meetings with the Prime Minister.
He says he has asked for a legal opinion on if proof of vaccination could be required to work in long-term care.
Liberal opposition leader Roger Melanson wonders if a passport will be necessary long-term.
“I think the principle make a lot of sense,” he said. “It would have to be an international initiative…and a secure document.”
Murray’s advice to political leaders should they decide proof of vaccination is required to travel:
“Don’t build your document and then say, ‘Oh. Now, what about privacy?’”