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Vaccine passports ignite debate over privacy vs. public health – CBC.ca

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As a steadily rising number of fully vaccinated Canadians emerge from hiding to test the gradual return to pre-pandemic normalcy, a conundrum looms: what to do about those who, for whatever reason, haven’t had a shot?

Striking the proper balance between public health and personal freedom, and figuring out whether one must be relinquished to protect the other, will become increasingly key as the country reopens.

For a growing number of jurisdictions and institutions, the solution is a vaccine passport, a document the bearer can show as proof of immunization against the coronavirus in order to be granted certain freedoms. On the flip side, those who can’t produce such evidence because they couldn’t or wouldn’t get vaccinated could be denied access to businesses, flights and university dorms, to name just a few potential inconveniences.

Tariq Dowers, seated second from right, receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Priscilla Policar at a mass vaccination clinic at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on June 27, 2021. As of June 25, more than 22 per cent of Canadians 12 and over were fully vaccinated. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

Last month, Manitoba announced it would provide immunization cards to residents who have been fully vaccinated, allowing them to travel domestically without being required to self-isolate when they return. In May, Western University in London announced it would require students living in residence to show proof of immunization.

Also in May, Health Minister Patty Hajdu told CBC News that her government was talking with its G7 allies about implementing a vaccine passport that would allow immunized Canadians to resume international travel while Quebec began issuing downloadable QR codes as digital proof of vaccination, though it wasn’t immediately clear how they’d be used.

Ethicists, privacy advocates and civil liberties groups have warned that such requirements threaten to create a new two-tier society, benefiting those who have been vaccinated and ostracizing those who haven’t.

As of June 25, the latest update available from the federal government, three-quarters of Canadians 12 and over had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 22 per cent were fully vaccinated.

CBC News spoke with experts in three fields to further explore the potential pitfalls of vaccine passports.

Arthur Schafer, the director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, says the federal government should have created a ‘model or guide for the provinces to follow’ when it comes to vaccine passports or immunization certificates. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

A question of fairness

For Arthur Schafer, founding director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, vaccine passports or “immunity certificates” are inevitable, but, he says, the federal government “badly dropped the ball” by failing to provide clear guidance to provinces and public health officials about how to manage them.

“It should have created an online app and plastic card, it should have created a model or guide for the provinces to follow, and it should have explained and justified why it was doing this, because society is not going to wait another six months,” said Schafer, who was an expert adviser to a federal panel on the subject.

“If we’re urging people to be vaccinated and we’re promising them that the vaccines are safe and effective, it just makes no sense then to say, ‘You’ll have to obey the same regulations as those who haven’t been vaccinated.'”

We’re becoming a hodge-podge society. We’d be much better off if we thought this through and created a policy that protected fundamental values​​​​.– Arthur Schafer, University of Manitoba

Instead, Schafer points out, it will happen in some jurisdictions, but not in others. In the latter, private entities such as cinemas and hotels could be left to devise their own policies.

“We’re becoming a hodge-podge society,” he said. “We’d be much better off if we thought this through and created a policy that protected fundamental values — privacy, confidentiality, liberty and public health — and balanced those in a way that was open, transparent and rationally defensible, and we haven’t done that.”

WATCH | Canadians debate civil liberty implications of vaccine passports:

The debate about the use of COVID-19 vaccine passports is heating up as more people get vaccinated. Some say they can be incentives for people to get a shot and allow more normal activities to resume, but others worry about infringing on people’s freedom and privacy. 7:47

Schafer says a fair system will ensure reasonable accommodation for those who haven’t been immunized, and he points out those people aren’t all Facebook-fuelled anti-vaxxers. Some are unsure because they’re taking immunosuppressant drugs, for example, while others have legitimate concerns about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines or justifiable fears borne from previous negative interactions with the health-care system.

“We should try to accommodate people who have objections, conscientious or scientific or even religious, where we can do so without compromising public safety and without incurring a disproportionate cost to society,” he said.

If such accommodation isn’t made, Schafer predicts, there could be a backlash.

“If an alternative route is available, if it’s effective and if the employer or the service provider doesn’t make it available, then I think a challenge under human rights legislation would succeed,” he said.

An officer at the Bregana border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia scans a traveller’s vaccine passport, known as an EU digital COVID certificate, on June 2, 2021. (Denis Lovrovic/AFP/Getty Images)

A question of privacy

In May, Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners issued a joint statement warning that while vaccine passports “may offer substantial public benefit, it is an encroachment on civil liberties that should be taken only after careful consideration.”

According to Ontario’s former privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, now executive director of the Global Privacy and Security by Design Centre, Canadians shouldn’t be expected to surrender their personal privacy for the sake of public health.

“You don’t throw out privacy because there’s a health-related concern now,” Cavoukian said. “It can never be one versus the other.”

Cavoukian is concerned about what could happen to people’s private health data under a vaccine passport system, and she worries that once it’s surrendered, it will already be too late.

What are you going to do, are you going to cast those people aside for the public good? Please.– Anne Cavoukian, Global Privacy and Security by Design Centre

“This data will be retained in association with your geolocation all around the world,” she said. “If you’re travelling, going to a football game or whatever, this information will be tracked, and the potential for surveillance is enormous.”

In many countries, immunization cards have long been commonplace for access to certain health services, but they’re only now being required to travel between countries or enter restaurants, for example.

Like Schafer, Cavoukian is also concerned such a system will alienate a minority of Canadians, many of whom have sound reasons not to get immunized — reasons they shouldn’t be required to divulge.

“What are you going to do, are you going to cast those people aside for the public good? Please,” she said. “I’m not saying this is easy, but you can’t just say, ‘Well, it’s for the public good, so forget about privacy.'”

At least one province agrees: On Wednesday, Saskatchewan announced it would not require proof of vaccination from residents looking to return to work or attend events, with one official pointing out that doing so would be a clear violation of the province’s Health Information Protection Act.

Cavoukian says people will relax once the majority of eligible Canadians is fully vaccinated. When that happens, singling out those who aren’t won’t seem nearly as important.

“There’s so much fear right now, and fear pushes people in the direction of, well, I guess we’ve gotta do this, and not examining it carefully.”

A man exits a Moscow restaurant on June 22, 2021. A sign on the door asks patrons to scan a QR code to prove they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

A question of freedom

Cara Zwibel, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s fundamental freedoms program, says it all comes down to choice.

“The choice to be vaccinated should be …  a true individual choice, and there comes a point where if we premise access to certain rights or access to full participation in society on people being vaccinated, that becomes a form of coercion where you’re not really being vaccinated because you choose to. You’re being vaccinated because you feel you have no choice,” Zwibel said.

The idea that you should have to show your proof of vaccination everywhere you go, I think that it fundamentally changes the kind of society that we are.– Cara Zwibel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

“The idea that you should have to show your proof of vaccination everywhere you go, I think that it fundamentally changes the kind of society that we are.”

But what about the person sitting next to you at work, school or on the bus? Don’t they have a right to exist in a safe environment?

“I think we need to get away from this idea that we need a space where there’s no COVID,” Zwibel said. “It really should be about mitigating that risk as much as we can and avoiding a situation where our hospitals are overwhelmed, but unfortunately, I think COVID is just another risk now that we have to incorporate into our daily lives.”

WATCH | ArriveCan app expands to include vaccination details:

Starting in early July, a new feature on the ArriveCan app will allow travellers to take a photo of or upload a snapshot of their vaccine documentation into the app before going through customs. 4:57

Like Cavoukian, Zwibel has serious concerns about sharing private health information, and she points out that while we might willingly hand our immunization records over to certain institutions, they’re statutorily limited in what they can do with that information.

“If we start to think about disclosing your vaccination status to the maître d’ at the restaurant and the person who takes your tickets at the cinema and the person who is checking at the door at the grocery store, that’s a whole other level of really surveillance of the population, and it’s significant,” she said. “I think before we go down that road, we have to think about what it is we’re trying to accomplish by doing this.”

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What Canada did on Saturday at the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympic games – CTV News

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TOKYO —
Michael Woods came agonizingly close to opening Canada’s medal account on the first full day of competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Take a look at what Canada did on Saturday at the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympic games:

ARCHERY

Men’s individual — Crispin Duenas, Toronto, finished 16th in the ranking round with a score of 665.

Mixed team — Canada (Stephanie Barrett, Mississauga, Ont., and Duenas) placed 17th overall in the ranking round with 1,295 points, just missing a berth in the main draw by two points.

BADMINTON

Mixed doubles — Josephine Wu, Edmonton, and Joshua Hurlburt-Yu, Toronto, lost their group-stage match 2-0 to Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand.

Women’s doubles — Rachel Honderich, Toronto, and Kristen Tsai, Burnaby, B.C., were defeated by Selena Piek and Cheryl Seinen of the Netherlands, 2-1.

Men’s doubles — Jason Ho-Shue, Markham, Ont., and Nyl Yakura, Pickering, Ont., lost 2-0 to Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Women — Melissa Humana-Paredes, Toronto, and Sarah Pavan, Kitchener, Ont., won their opening group-stage match 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) over Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands. Heather Bansley, Waterdown, Ont., and Brandie Wilkerson, Toronto, lost 2-1 (18-21, 21-15, 15-11) to the Chinese team of Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia.

BOXING

Men’s welterweight (63-69 kg) — Wyatt Sanford of Kennetcook, N.S., lost 5-0 to Merven Clair, Mauritius, in the round of 32.

CYCLING

Men’s road race — Michael Woods, Ottawa, placed fifth overall in a time of 6:05:26, one minute, seven seconds behind the winner; Guillaume Boivin, Montreal, was 65th (6:21:46); while Hugo Houle of Ste-Perpetue, Que., 85th (6:25:16).

EQUESTRIAN (DRESSAGE)

Individual — Chris von Martels, Ridgetown, Ont., and his horse, Eclips, were seventh in their qualifier group after the first day with a score of 68.059.

Team — Following the first day, Canada is ranked 11th with 2,191 points, with the other riders (Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu, Saint-Bruno, Que., and Lindsay Kellock, Toronto) to compete in the coming days.

FENCING

Men’s individual sabre — Shaul Gordon of Richmond, B.C., lost 15-10 in the round-of-32 to Mojtaba Abedini of Iran.

FIELD HOCKEY

Men — Keegan Pereira of Pickering, Ont., had the lone goal as Canada (0-1) lost 7-1 to Germany.

GYMNASTICS (ARTISTIC)

Men’s floor exercise — Rene Cournoyer, Repentigny, Que., placed 68th in qualifying with a score of 11.766, did not advance.

Men’s horizontal bar — Cournoyer, was 36th in qualifying (13.266), did not advance.

Men’s parallel bars — Cournoyer, 63rd (12.333), did not advance.

Men’s pommel horse — Cournoyer, 55th (12.800), did not advance.

Men’s rings — Cournoyer, 33rd (13.666), did not advance.

Men’s vault — Rene Cournoyer, 44th (13.866), did not advance,

Individual all-around — Cournoyer placed 55th overall (77.697), did not advance.

ROWING

Women’s lightweight double sculls — Jennifer Casson, Kingston, Ont., and Jill Moffatt, Bethany, Ont., were second in their qualifying heat in seven minutes, 11.3 seconds to earn a berth in the semifinals.

Women’s pairs — Caileigh Filmer, Victoria, and Hillary Janssens, Cloverdale, B.C., won their heat (7:18.34) and advance to the semifinals.

Women’s fours — Canada (Stephanie Grauer, Vancouver; Nicole Hare, Calgary; Jennifer Martins, Toronto; Kristina Walker, Wolfe Island, Ont.) finished third in their race (6:40:07) and will need to advance through the repechage stage.

Women’s eights — Canada (Susanne Grainger, London, Ont.; Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Calgary; Kristen Kit, St. Catharines, Ont.; Madison Mailey, Lions Bay, B.C.; Sydney Payne, Toronto; Andrea Proske, Langley, B.C.; Lisa Roman, Langley, B.C.; Christine Roper, London, Ont.; Avalon Wasteneys, Campbell River, B.C.) placed second in their qualifier (6:07.97) and will race in the repechage.

Men’s lightweight double sculls — Patrick Keane, Victoria, and Maxwell Lattimer, Delta, B.C., were third in their heat (6:27:54) and will go to the repechage.

Men’s pairs — Kai Langerfeld, North Vancouver, B.C., and Conlin McCabe, Brockville, Ont., finished third (6:40.99) and qualified for the semifinals.

Men’s fours — Canada (Jakub Buczek, Kitchener, Ont.; Will Crothers, Kingston, Ont.; Luke Gadsdon, Hamilton; Gavin Stone, Brampton, Ont.) were fifth in their heat (6:05.47) and will be in a repechage.

SOCCER

Women — Janine Beckie, Highlands Ranch, Colo., scored both goals as Canada downed Chile 2-1, to improve to a win and a draw.

SOFTBALL

Canada beat Australia 7-1 to improve to 2-1 in the group stage.

SWIMMING

Women’s 100 butterfly — Margaret MacNeil of London, Ont., posted the fifth-best time in qualifying (56.55) to advance to the semifinals.

Women’s 400 individual medley — Tessa Cieplucha, Georgetown, Ont., was 14th in qualifying (4:44.54), did not advance; Sydney Pickrem, Halifax, did not start.

Women’s 4×100 freestyle relay — Canada (Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez, Toronto; Taylor Ruck, Kelowna, B.C.; Rebecca Smith, Red Deer, Alta.) posted the third-best time in qualifying (3:33.72) to earn a berth in the final.

Men’s 100 breastroke — Gabe Mastromatteo, Kenora, Ont., was 38th in qualifying (1:01.56), did not advance.

TABLE TENNIS

Mixed doubles — Mo Zhang, Richmond, B.C., and Eugene Wang, Toronto, lost in the round-of-16 to Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen of China, 4-1.

TAEKWONDO

Women’s flyweight (49 kg) — Yvette Yong, Toronto, lost her round-of-16 match to T.K. Truong of Vietnam, 19-5.

TENNIS

Women’s singles — Leylah Annie Fernandez, Laval, Que., def. Dayana Yastremska, Ukraine, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, in her opening match and will play Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic in the second round.

Women’s doubles — Gabriela Dabrowski, Ottawa, and Sharon Fichman, Toronto, were eliminated after losing their first-round match to Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani of Brazil, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

VOLLEYBALL

Men — Canada lost to Italy 3-2 (26-28, 18-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-11) in its opening group stage match.

WATER POLO

Monika Eggens of Pitt Meadows, B.C., scored three goals but Canada (0-1) lost to Australia, 6-5.

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‘Shadow pandemic’ of femicide looms, experts warn as Canada prepares to reopen – Global News

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After more than a year of quarantines, lockdowns and separations due to COVID-19, Canada is slowly reopening. But experts say another pandemic, of femicide and domestic violence, has been quietly raging across the country.

The proof is in the reports. Preliminary findings from the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability’s (CFOJA) mid-year report found 92 women and girls were killed, mostly by men, between January and June of this year.

Femicide is the killing of a girl or woman because of their gender. Men were identified as the accused in 79 out of 92 killings in the first half of 2021.

Indigenous women were over-represented in this year’s report, making up 12 per cent of femicide victims, despite comprising just 5 per cent of Canada’s overall population.

Read more:
Are you experiencing abuse? Here’s how to get help

Experts say the data is unsurprising.

“We, as in violence against women organizations, advocates and survivors, have been naming that there is a shadow pandemic happening and that is gender based violence,” says Farrah Khan, a gender justice advocate and manager of Ryerson University’s Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education.

Numbers have been steadily rising since the COVID pandemic began. CFOJA, which tracks femicides across the country, said 160 women and girls were victims of femicide last year, an uptick from the 118 who were killed in 2019.

Khan said the health crisis that has led to repeated lockdowns across the country has “set women up” for unhealthy relationships that could result in their deaths. Women, who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, accounted for more than 35 per cent of job losses across the country and make up a majority of Canada’s minimum wage workers.

Read more:
‘Perfect storm’: Growing calls to address domestic violence during coronavirus

She says this could have prompted many women to move in with potentially abusive partners to save on costs that left them trapped and unable to leave when things began to escalate in an unsafe way. Things like child-care problems and food insecurity, also rampant during the pandemic, are also reasons women end up trapped with their abusers.

“The lockdown has increased the abusers’ access to them, has increased their ability to control their mobility, increased their ability to set strict rules about who they interact with,” she said of women during the pandemic, including those with abusive family members.

“I worry about the people also that are living through it right now that are not reaching out to services, are not feeling safe to do so because someone is monitoring their phone, somebody is monitoring their computer.”

Of the 160 women killed according to the report, researchers said 128 women and girls were killed by men. A majority of them were killed in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut accounting for 13.68 per cent and 5.21 per cent respectively.


Click to play video: 'Increase in domestic violence reported during lockdown'



5:15
Increase in domestic violence reported during lockdown


Increase in domestic violence reported during lockdown – Feb 23, 2021

Victims of abuse could see more challenges in rural and remote areas, Khan says, because of isolation and the lack of mobility sometimes present in those communities.

“Already mobility is challenged. Already there’s no computer in the house that doesn’t have spyware on it,” Khan said, adding that “what’s needed in Toronto is different than what’s going to be needed in rural and remote areas.”

Numbers are also stacking up in more densely populated provinces.

In Ontario alone, femicide has increased by more than 84 per cent in the first half of 2021, according to the latest report from the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH).

Read more:
Women facing more violence amid coronavirus pandemic: national survey

“[When] we compare that to the prior year, there’s been an increase every single month,” Marlene Ham, executive director of OAITH, told Global News. “To have six months in a row show an increase in the number of femicides, that does surprise us, but it also really concerns us.”

From December 2019 through June 2020, the report found 19 confirmed femicides throughout the province. The next year, they reported 35.

Younger women between the ages of 18 and 35 accounted for a majority of this year’s femicides at 30 per cent, while younger men between 18 and 35 years accounted for 50 per cent of all perpetrators this year. Researchers found intimate partner cases made up 80 per cent of femicide cases in 2021.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ham said OAITH began noticing more femicides in Ontario when the province reopened, likely as a result of women trying to leave their abusers.

“When survivors leave or make a plan to leave, for some of them that can be the most dangerous time,” she said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate assistance. For a more comprehensive list of resources, click here.

Get help:

Assaulted Women’s Helpline
Toll-free: 1-866-863-0511
Toll-free TTY: 1-866-863-7868

Get help:

Shelter Safe: Network of women’s shelters across Canada
Canadian Family Law Lawyers Network
Phone: 1-888-660-4869
Legal Aid Domestic Abuse Hotline
Phone: 1-800-668-8258
Women’s Multicultural Resource and Counselling Centre of Durham
Phone: 1-877-454-4035
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Phone: 416-323-9149 ext. 234
Email: info@schliferclinic.com

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fauci says prospect of open border for fully vaccinated Canadians part of active U.S. talks – CBC.ca

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U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci says the prospect of opening the U.S. border to fully vaccinated Canadians is part of an “active discussion” in the White House.

“I can tell you that the border situation and letting Canadians in who are fully vaccinated is an area of active discussion right now in the U.S. government,” he told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics in an exclusive Canadian interview.

“As a public health official, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out why policies haven’t changed.”

Earlier this week, the U.S. government issued a renewal order keeping the borders with Canada and Mexico closed until August 21.

According to U.S. Homeland Security officials, the move is part of the government’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the more contagious delta variant.

The delta variant has been wreaking havoc south of the border, where infections and hospitalizations are up in nearly all 50 states.

Fauci said the delta variant now accounts for 83 per cent of cases in the U.S. Those cases are concentrated in southern states, where vaccination rates are lower than the national average.

“In some of the southern states where the level of vaccination is very low and the level of the transmission of the virus is very high, we’re seeing a significant surge in cases,” Fauci said. 

“This virus has an extraordinary capability of efficiently spreading from person to person.” 

The White House has enlisted the help of celebrities and athletes to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, particularly in states led by Republican governors. In recent days, high-profile conservative figures such as Fox pundit Sean Hannity have encouraged Americans to get vaccinated.

Fauci said the U.S. must increase its vaccination rate to end current outbreaks of COVID-19.  

“We’re seeing some of them starting to come around, which is a really good thing, because we’ve got to realize and act on it, that the common enemy is the virus,” he told Power & Politics.

“The virus doesn’t have any idea who’s a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent.” 

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