The debate surrounding the need for COVID-19 vaccine passports continues, but it seems some people are already looking for ways around the system.
On Amazon.ca, you can get a pack of 10 blank CDC cards for just $18.98. Lanyards and card protectors come at an extra charge.
In Canada, many wonder how easy it may be to reproduce their proof of inoculation.
In Manitoba, inoculated residents receive an immunization card with a scannable QR code.
Meanwhile, vaccinated Ontarians are handed — or emailed — a sheet of paper with seemingly no security features, just the patient and doctor’s info.
“I think there’s a good reason to worry, but I’m not at all surprised,” said Karen Wendling, an associate professor at University of Guelph who often discusses medical ethics.
“From a Canadian perspective, we can be worried that there are going to be non-vaccinated Americans trying to cross the border.”
Altering or recreating a legitimate document (like a vaccine card), with the intent of using it as real, is a federal crime.
“This can be liable to a variety of offences under the Criminal Code of Canada” said SuJung Lee, criminal defence lawyer at Daniel Brown Law.
“The most applicable, I would say, offence for these types of actions would probably be forgery.”
Lee says this can land you between 18 months and 10 years behind bars. Possessing, using or trafficking the forged document would count as separate offences.
If financial loss is involved, you can also be charged with fraud. That’s between two and 14 years behind bars if convicted, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Due to the devastating global impact of COVID-19, though, Lee suspects courts will go for maximum penalties to those found guilty.
“These types of offences, if they come to the forefront, is something that courts will probably take very very seriously…. They’ll want to signal to the community that (they) will not go unpunished.”
When asked if forged proof of COVID-19 vaccinations was used to enter the country, a spokesperson with the Canada Border Services Agency told Global News: “(CBSA) is aware that some travellers may attempt to use fraudulent documentation when seeking entry to Canada.”
In an email to Global on Tuesday, the CBSA added that 591 travellers arriving in Canada (237 travellers by air and 354 by land) were referred to the Public Health Agency of Canada for “issues related to their proof of vaccination.” This includes people whose proof of vaccination needed further verification, or if they did not meet required criteria, like vaccine date or vaccine type. Note that these numbers are between July 5, when proof of vaccine became required for Canadians and permanent resident travellers, and July 18.
The CBSA would not say how many individuals were suspected to be carrying forged vaccine cards, if any.
When asked how border agents would be able to tell a real vaccine card from a fake one with no security features within the cards, the CBSA would not specify, responding: “Border services officers (BSO) are trained in examination techniques and use indicators, intelligence, and other information to determine a person’s admissibility to Canada. This includes confirming that the documentation required to be found admissible or to meet the criteria for modified public health measures is valid and authentic.”
“All travellers should be aware that providing false information to a Government of Canada official upon entry to Canada or making false or fraudulent attempts is a serious offence and may result in penalties and/or criminal charges,” the agency added.
Nonetheless, Canadians are divided on whether or not proof of vaccine should be required in the first place, with some calling it an “ethical dilemma.”
“The answer is yes, I do believe they should be required. People have been dying from (COVID-19),” said Wendling. “For going across countries, there just is no doubt that’s going to be required.”
Wendling also stressed the need to prove you’re vaccinated in high-risk congregate settings, or in crowded spaces like concerts. However, she thinks this could only be justified for a disease as deadly and far-spreading as COVID-19.
“When it’s a pandemic, you just don’t have the right to harm others,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nancy Walton questions whether a blanket requirement for all scenarios is actually going to work.
“It’s always important to look at the context,” said Walton, the associate dean of graduate studies at Ryerson University and the director of the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing.
“If we’re looking at a context like a health-care environment, a hospital, a long-term care centre — yes the pros outweigh the cons, definitely. We have an obligation and it’s justified to require health-care workers to be vaccinated.”
But in other contexts like workplaces, concerts, grocery stores or malls, Walton says there are other available options to consider, short of demanding vaccine proof.
“Distancing, personal protective equipment, masking, physical barriers.”
Walton also says inadequate and inequitable access to vaccines, especially in poorer countries, may be a deciding factor on travel restrictions.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about the global supply, and of course that requiring vaccination as part of travel then further restricts people who may already be disadvantaged … so you’re putting additional burdens on people.”
Either way, both Walton and Welding say health officials need to come up with some kind of way to authenticate COVID-19 vaccine cards — as some cybersecurity experts say the demand for forged cards will grow on the dark web.
“There has to be something. It’s not recreating the wheel,” said Walton.
“If I’m going to Germany, for instance, I hope they ask me for something more secure than my printout from Ontario,” said Wendling.
Meanwhile, Lee says being charged with forgery or fraud for faking a vaccine card can be challenged in court, as can any charge.
However, it would be “very difficult” to show the court that being demanded proof of vaccine infringes on your everyday rights.
“In everyday life, we see instances where requiring proof of other kinds of identifying documents — such as driver’s licences to access public or private services — are a commonplace occurrence that are not necessarily rights-infringing, but a cost, for example, of living harmoniously in society.”
Science advisory table proposes COVID-19 vaccine certificates for Ontario
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COMMENTARY: Young Canadians are struggling economically. This election is our chance to fix that. – Global News
Much like nearly half of the country, I was hoping Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wouldn’t call an early election in the midst of a pandemic, but here we are.
Canada’s federal election will take place on Sept. 20, so the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens have just a few days left to convince young Canadians to vote in their favour. Top of mind for gen Zs and millennials? Employment.
Unemployment rates for young Canadians increased by six per cent from 2019 to 2020 — roughly twice that of older Canadians, a Statistics Canada study about youth employment published last month revealed. Indeed, by 2020, the unemployment rate for Canadians aged 15 to 30 who weren’t in school full-time hovered just under 15 per cent. This has been a trend since COVID-19’s arrival in March 2020 when the number of post-secondary working students dropped by 28 per cent from the previous month.
As StatsCan says, this relatively high unemployment rate suggests young Canadians joining the labour force “might see lower earnings in the years following graduation than they would have in a more dynamic labour market.”
Canada’s third COVID-19 wave creates ‘zigzag’ economy
There’s a clear need for a post-pandemic recovery plan that supports gen Zs and millennials in getting jobs. Some even had to sacrifice internships and other entry-level opportunities that would’ve given them a foot in the door because COVID-19’s arrival not only meant that working out of the office wasn’t an option, but also that many companies weren’t yet prepared for the transition to remote working.
Case in point: One of my fellows who graduated from journalism school in the spring of 2020 lost out on a school-funded reporting trip to Rwanda and an internship — which could have led to a permanent job — because the newsroom decided not to bring on interns after the pandemic’s arrival. To make matters worse, due to his unique circumstances as someone who graduated right before COVID-19 hit, he neither qualified for Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program nor the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) because he hadn’t started working yet.
He told me the CESB wasn’t enough to support him, so he’s been living with his parents during the pandemic. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) provided a scant $1,250 per month for eligible students from May through August 2020, and $1,750 per month for students with dependents and those with permanent disabilities. In most major Canadian cities, that amount would barely cover the cost of one month’s rent for a studio apartment.
Young Canadians with disabilities, who are less likely to be employed than their non-disabled counterparts, have even bigger economic barriers to overcome. Indeed, the election announcement effectively killed Bill C-35, the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act, which aims to reduce poverty and support the financial security of working-age Canadians with disabilities.
As part of Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery plan, our parties would do well to create green jobs. Not only will they contribute to the fight against climate change, which is a priority issue for gen Zs and millennials, these jobs will also help young Canadians get back to work. They include opportunities in the sectors of renewable energy, environmental protection, sustainable urban planning and more, as well as low-carbon jobs like teaching and care-worker roles.
Canada’s job seekers may have upper hand amid labour squeeze
Despite some resistance to a snap election as the delta variant of COVID-19 picks up, our country’s politicians have an opportunity to improve the financial future of young Canadians across the country during a time when they’re struggling economically.
Now’s the time to shore up our youngest generations and future leaders.
Anita Li is a media strategist and consultant with a decade of experience as a multi-platform journalist at outlets across North America. She is also a journalism instructor at Ryerson University, the City University of New York’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and Centennial College. She is the co-founder of Canadian Journalists of Colour, a rapidly growing network of BIPOC media-makers in Canada, as well as a member of the 2020-21 Online News Association board of directors. To keep up with Anita Li, subscribe to The Other Wave, her newsletter about challenging the status quo in journalism.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday – CBC.ca
In Europe, about 3,000 French health-care workers were suspended for not meeting this week’s deadline to get mandatory coronavirus vaccinations, the health minister said Thursday.
Most of the people suspended work in support positions and were not medical staff, Health Minister Olivier Veran told RTL radio. The number suspended was lower than projected ahead of the Wednesday deadline.
A few dozen of France’s 2.7 million health-care workers have quit their jobs because of the vaccine mandate, he said.
France ordered all health-care workers to get vaccinated or be suspended without pay. Most French people support the measure. However, it prompted weeks of protests by a vocal minority against the vaccine mandate.
What’s happening across Canada
- Southern health region sees biggest chunk of Manitoba’s 64 new cases.
- P.E.I. announces 9 new cases related to Charlottetown school outbreak.
- N.S. reports 34 new cases amid outbreak in unvaccinated northern community.
What’s happening around the world
As of Thursday, more than 226.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.
In the Americas, Cuba began a vaccination campaign for children between the ages of two and 10, saying it was necessary to curb the spread of the delta variant. Meanwhile, the nearby U.S. state of Florida has surpassed 50,000 COVID-19 deaths, officials said, despite recent steep drops in hospitalizations and infections.
PHOTOS | Children in Cuba get vaccinated:
In Asia, Chinese health officials say more than a billion people have been fully vaccinated in the world’s most populous country — that represents 72 per cent of its 1.4 billion people. China has largely stopped the spread by imposing restrictions and mass testing whenever new cases are found. It also limits entry to the country and requires people who arrive to quarantine in a hotel for at least two weeks.
In Africa, the World Health Organization’s Africa director says COVID-19 cases across the continent dropped 30 per cent last week, but says it’s hardly reassuring given the dire shortage of vaccines. WHO’s Dr. Matshidiso Moeti says only 3.6 per cent of Africa’s population have been fully immunized, noting export bans and the hoarding of vaccines by rich countries has resulted in “a chokehold” on vaccine supplies to Africa.
Elsewhere in Europe, in order for Italian workers in both the public and private sectors to access the workplace, they must provide a health pass — which shows proof of vaccination, a negative result on a recent rapid test or recovery from COVID-19 in the last six months — starting on Oct. 15. Slovenia and Greece adopted similar measures this week.
Canada must 'learn from' the pandemic crisis in parts of the West, Tam says – CBC.ca
Canada’s chief public health officer says other provinces need to learn from the pandemic crisis in Alberta and Saskatchewan if they want to avoid the calamity now afflicting health services in those provinces.
“Don’t be complacent,” Theresa Tam said at this morning’s media briefing. “We have to be highly vigilant on this virus. When you see it accelerating, act fast because, I think, we have to learn from the situation in Alberta and also in Saskatchewan at the moment.”
On Thursday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reintroduced strict and sweeping measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 — including a new requirement that people provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to some businesses and social events.
Alberta has more than 18,000 active COVID-19 cases — the most of any province right now. There were 877 people in the province’s hospitals with the illness on Wednesday, 218 of them in intensive care. Ontario, with a population more than three times Alberta’s, had 346 in hospital, with 188 in intensive care.
“It is now clear that we were wrong, and for that I apologize,” Kenney said in announcing the new measures.
Tam said that, despite the fact that a large majority of Canadians are vaccinated, there are still seven million Canadians who have not been vaccinated and intensive care units in areas where vaccination rates are low are filling up with people in their 40s and 50s.
“When enough people are infected, even rarer events, in younger adults for example, are going to become common,” she said.
Avoiding more school lockdowns
Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada has looked at public health units across the country and found overwhelming evidence that areas with low vaccination rates are experiencing surges in infections.
She said the regions of the country struggling the most with pandemic surges are in the West — Alberta, Northern Saskatchewan and northern and interior parts of British Columbia.
“If we want to keep schools open, for example, we have to make sure we manage the virus transmission … to protect kids who are under 12, who cannot get vaccinated at the moment,” she said.
WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam on lessons the rest of Canada can learn from Alberta
In parts of the country where increasing the vaccination rate is proving to be difficult, Tam said, authorities should impose public health restrictions — limiting the number of people that can gather together, mandating the wearing of masks indoors, hand-washing and physical distancing.
If vaccination rates cannot be increased in those parts of the country and such public health measures aren’t introduced, Tam said, more restrictive measures — such as lockdowns and stay-at-home orders — may have to be implemented.
“I think jurisdictions have to be prepared for that potential, but if you act early you can actually avoid those more restrictive measures,” she said.
“But if needed, more restrictions may have to take place and my colleagues are hoping that this can be done in a more localized manner in order to avoid the significant impacts of widespread restrictions. I think it can be done.”
Tam said that while no provinces are immune from the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19, the provinces in Atlantic Canada have managed to control spikes in infection rates by acting “fast in putting down some localized measures.”
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