EDMONTON — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Alberta and parts of Canada, some provinces and private organizations are going to start asking for proof of vaccination.
B.C. is the latest province, along with Quebec and Manitoba, to announce it will require residents to show they have been vaccinated when they attend some recreational settings, like restaurants, fitness centres, movie theatres and sporting events.
Several sports organizations, including the Edmonton Oilers, will also ask fans to show their vaccination status, or a negative COVID-19 test, before they can enter a game.
Timothy Caulfield, a professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta, believes proof of vaccination mandates will be widely used in Alberta one way or another.
“This is going to happen,” Caulfield told CTV News Edmonton.
“I do think it’s just a matter of time before we see more and more institutions in Alberta doing that.
“I think the provincial government needs to show some leadership here. Let’s help the private sector. The private sector’s trying to do the right thing. Let’s create an environment where it’s easier for them to do it.”
The Starlite Room will also require customers to be vaccinated, a decision they say is the best way to welcome back music fans and international artists.
Tyson Boyd, one of the owners and operators, said “we’re kind of having to break our own ground,” but that the reaction has been mostly positive.
“We do not necessarily want to be in this position and we’re trying to do the best with what we’ve got,” Boyd told CTV News. “So proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test is the most inclusive we can be in a condensed setting like we are.
“We are not a socially distanced type of business. When you come to a concert at places like the Starlite Room, it’s fully immersive. You know, you’re going to be close to the people you’re going to the show with and to gain the confidence and be able to try to replicate the experience of what we delivered prior to pandemic, we just need people to be comfortable within a tightly condensed space of people.”
In a statement to CTV News, the Alberta government said “it is not considering mandatory vaccine mandates at this time.”
“Albertans are encouraged to continue to sign up for both first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to ensure long-term protection,” the province added.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta issued guidance on proof of vaccination.
On Monday, Jill Clayton, Alberta’s information and privacy commissioner, explained to CTV News organizations and businesses can make vaccines mandatory if it’s necessary to give a product or a service.
“Businesses need to be thinking about, do they have a purpose? If they think they do, how much information do they need to collect in order to meet that purpose,” Clayton said. “They also have to be really transparent to individuals about why they are collecting the information.”
Caulfield thinks privacy concerns are overblown and dismissed the possibility of discrimination if businesses have alternatives for people who can’t get vaccinated, which Clayton said is necessary, like rapid tests.
“My sense is that there is no legal impediment to moving this forward,” Caulfield said.
“This isn’t an immutable characteristic. This is a choice that you make: get vaccinated, don’t get vaccinated. And choices have consequences.”
As of Tuesday, 73 per cent of Alberta’s active COVID-19 cases are in unvaccinated people, and 80 per cent of Albertans in hospital with COVID-19 have not received a shot.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Alex Antoneshyn and Ryan Harding