Vaccines cards: B.C.’s official opposition criticizes ‘lack of clarity’ ahead of rollout

With details expected this week on B.C.’s proof-of-vaccination card, the province’s official opposition is asking for clarity and possible changes to the system.

Shirley Bond, interim leader of the BC Liberal Party, wrote a letter to Premier John Horgan on Friday asking several questions she says were on behalf of residents and businesses.

“We, like all British Columbians, have followed the advice of B.C.’s public health officer and done our part to keep ourselves safe and our loved ones safe,” the letter says.

“However, we continue to see a lack of clarity around how the vaccine card program will be rolled out.”

Officials announced last month that, beginning on Sept. 13, B.C. residents will be required to show proof that they have received at least a first dose of vaccine to dine at restaurants, attend ticketed sporting events, go to the movies or do a variety of other discretionary activities.

By Oct. 24, residents will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated before entering such venues and events.

One of the critiques of the proof-of-vaccination requirement is of the lack of exemptions for anyone who cannot get the vaccine. A lawyer told CTV News Vancouver after the program was announced that this could pose “a very big constitutional problem.”

“There are reasons people can’t be vaccinated. They are rare but in a province the size of British Columbia, that amounts to a lot of people,” lawyer Christine Van Geyn of the Canadian Constitution Foundation said.

In her letter, Bond asks whether the premier “will consider medical exemptions to ensure some people are not condemned to an extended period of social isolation.”

When she announced the program, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said part of the reason there would be no exemptions is because the requirement is only temporary and the activities they’ll be excluded from are “discretionary.” 

Other questions posed by Bond focus on the impact to businesses. In her letter she asks whether there will be support to protect staff from abusive customers, whether there will be liability protection for owners who fear lawsuits and whether training, signage and financial support will be provided so businesses don’t have to pay for these themselves.

“We must provide support to business owners who have been caught off guard by this announcement, and whose staff must be protected,” Bond’s letter says. “People want to do the right thing, but they need clear answers from you and your government.”

Full details on how the proof-of-vaccination program will work are expected to be explained by officials this week.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Michele Brunoro