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Businesses, enforcement bodies brace for learning curve on vaccine certificates

September 22, 2021  By Canadian press

Sept. 21, 2021 – Ontario’s proof-of-vaccination policy, set to take effect on Wednesday, treads into new territory, since workers will be tasked with asking customers to show they are immunized against the virus.

“The pushback is where I get a little nervous,” Pub manager Crystal Meikle said on a recent afternoon shift at the Queen’s Head pub in east Toronto. “It’s the unknown of how somebody is going to react.’”

Recently, the province outlined its guidelines for businesses required to make the checks. Patrons at dine-in restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, sports facilities and other venues must present a receipt of full vaccination and identification. Doctors’ notes for medical exemptions will also be accepted.

Fines are on the table for businesses that don’t comply with the checks and for patrons who give false information. But businesses, by-law officers, police forces and the province say enforcement will be gentle until the policy’s impact starts to play out on the ground, with much of the heavy lifting falling to businesses’ frontline staff.


Several Ontario police forces contacted by The Canadian Press indicated they would respond to safety-related calls regarding threats or violence but would not actively enforce or check for compliance with the vaccination policy.

A spokesman for Ontario’s Solicitor General said the province doesn’t expect police to conduct “routine compliance checks” of the vaccination receipts.

Joe Couto, communications director with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said police forces would wait for calls to come in related to the policy before deciding whether to redeploy or adjust resources.

“The question I’ve been asked is: are police going to be needing new resources or shifting resources to deal with the rollout of certification,” he said. “The short answer to that is, we really don’t know, because the province is still developing not only its policies, but how it will actually practically work.”

By-law officers will likely be the enforcement body responsible for issuing non-compliance tickets. In Toronto, the city said it would take an “educational approach” with businesses as the new rules roll out. It asked people to be respectful and to call 311 with non-compliance concerns.

A Ministry of Labour spokeswoman said inspectors would also be visiting affected settings, “taking an education first approach to help workers and the public stay safe and keep businesses open.”

People will need to show paper or digital vaccination receipts until next month, when the province has promised a QR code with individuals’ vaccination records and an app for businesses to verify them.

Health Minister Christine Elliott and Toronto mayor John Tory have both said they don’t expect non-compliance to be a major issue.

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