Leadership with the Northwestern Health Unit says the enforcement of Ontario’s upcoming vaccine passport will run mostly on a complaint and education-based system. The new passport will come into effect as of September 22.

Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, explains municipal by-law enforcement officers, provincial offense officers, OPP officers and Northwestern Health Unit inspectors will all able to enforce the new measures.

However, Young Hoon says the program will operate similarly to enforcement regarding breaking the stay-at-home orders, where officers focused more on education and prevention rather than strict enforcement and fines.

“Lots of information and education at this point, and it will be a complaint-based enforcement process,” explained Young Hoon, during her conference with regional media members on Thursday.

Ontario lists their penalties for failing to comply with the new vaccination passport as set fine amounts of $750 for individuals and $1,000 for corporations.

Maximum penalties based on a prosecution include fines of up to $100,000 and up to a year in jail for an individual, up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail for a director of a corporation, and up to $10 million for a corporation.

During a virtual announcement on the vaccination passport earlier this week, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, reminds businesses and their employees that anyone performing a duty under the act should be protected, and any violent acts, threats or harassment is a police matter. If in an emergency, dial 911 immediately.

Residents are also reminded that all other public health and workplace safety measures remain in effect, including capacity limits, patron screening, masking, social distancing and the collection of contact information where required.

Businesses that will require identification and proof of vaccination as of Sep. 22 include:

- Indoor areas of meeting spaces and event spaces, banquet halls, conference centres,
- Indoor and outdoor areas of food or drink establishments, nightclubs, excludes takeout,
- Indoor areas of restaurants and bars, excluding outdoor areas, delivery and takeout,
- Indoor areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms and pools,
- Indoor areas of casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments,
- Indoor areas of concert venues, theatres and cinemas,
- Indoor areas of bathhouses, sex clubs and strip clubs,
- Indoor areas of horse racing, car racing tracks
- Indoor areas where film and TV productions take place, does not include cast or crew.

After the announcement of a vaccine passport system, Ontario reported administering nearly 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in residents aged 18 to 59, as of September 15, which Elliott attributed to the new passport system and legislation.

As of September 16, the Northwestern Health Unit reports administering 118,699 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Overall, the NWHU has protected 84.3 per cent of residents with one dose of the vaccine, and 76 per cent of residents have received two doses. Both numbers trail just shy of Ontario’s rate of 84 per cent and 78.5 per cent, respectively.

Although, Young Hoon says the region has also seen a slightly higher vaccination uptake since the announcement.

“We’re seeing more people coming forward to be vaccinated, including people coming in for their first dose. Definitely at this point, we’re seeing a steady number of people coming forward to be vaccinated – and that’s great news,” she explained.

Ontarians are asked to print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking tool. Those who need support obtaining a copy of their receipt can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Residents will be asked to provide a copy of their receipts at certain businesses and locations until October 22, when Ontario’s enhanced vaccine certificate app will be rolled out. The app will come with a unique QR code to prove you’ve been vaccinated, and Ontario says it won’t store personal information.