Ontarians will need to have their Vaccine Passports ready to enter a variety of local businesses by downloading documents from a provincial website, a move that’s divided many, as opponents say it infringes on their constitutional rights.

But during a live-streamed announcement at the Ontario Legislature building yesterday afternoon, Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the new tool will only be used as long as it's necessary – and not one day longer.

“I know that many people are concerned about the certificate and what it means for your civil liberties,” said Ford. “I know that this is a divisive issue, and that’s understandable. I hear you. Our government understands your concerns. It’s no secret that I was reluctant to use this tool, but what keeps me up at night, is ensuring we never lose our hard-fought progress.”

Yesterday was Ford’s second news conference in the last two months, a significant drop from his normal routine of near-daily live streams prior to the summer months. He says he’s been out meeting with constituents across the province while trying to end the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We can’t afford to shut down again or experience a sudden surge in cases like we’re seeing in other provinces across the country,” added Ford. “These certificates are the best chance that we have to get through the coming months without having to move backwards.”

Ontario reported only 463 new COVID-19 cases across the province on Wednesday, the lowest daily case count in over five weeks. It’s the fewest number of confirmed cases in a 24-hour period since August 17.

“But let me be clear. This is a temporary and exceptional measure, and we will only use these certificates for as long as they’re needed, and not one day longer,” said Ford.

Businesses that require identification and proof of vaccination 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.

While photo identification isn’t required, your proof of identity can include your:

- Birth certificate,
- Citizenship card,
- Driver’s licence,
- Government issued ID card, including health cards, even if expired (Ontario residents only)
- First Nation Status Card,
- Passport,
- Permanent Resident card.

Ontario notes if your name and date of birth on your identification and vaccination passport do not match, you will not be allowed to enter the business. As well, if you alter the appearance of your vaccination receipt, it will not be accepted as valid.

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.

Ontarians are now being 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.

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.

However, Premier Ford and the Northwestern Health Unit have stressed that enforcement will be education and prevention-based first, and will be ‘reasonable’ for small businesses and business owners.

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.