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Ford responds after Trudeau calls on province to 'step up' and introduce vaccine passport

Last Updated Aug 27, 2021 at 1:42 pm EDT

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford take part in a ground breaking event at the Iamgold Cote Gold mining site in Gogama, Ont., on Friday, September 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette THE CANADIAN PRESS

Premier Doug Ford says his government will “respond accordingly” after Liberal leader Justin Trudeau urged him to “step up” on the contentious issue of vaccine passports.

Speaking in Mississauga, Trudeau says a Liberal government would set up a $1-billion fund that provinces and territories could use to help them implement a proof-of-vaccination system.

“With your premier, wherever you are across the country, if your premier mandates that everyone in your local restaurant or gym or non-essential locations must be fully vaccinated and show proof, we’ll pay for the development and rollout of that program,” Trudeau announced Friday.

In his comments, the Liberal leader mentioned Ford specifically, saying he should “step up” and enforce a proof-of-vaccination policy similar to Quebec and British Columbia, which announced provincial vaccine passport systems.

In response, Ford’s office says his government will continue to observe the emerging Delta variant and its severity.

“Ontario has put forward the most cautious reopening plan, which includes some of the highest vaccination thresholds, maintaining masking in public indoor spaces, as well as capacity limits and distancing requirements, and releasing the most comprehensive, far-ranging mandatory vaccination policies for high-risk settings in the country,” the premier said in a statement released through his spokesperson.

“As Dr. [Kieran] Moore has already said, we will continue to monitor the trajectory and status of the Delta variant and respond accordingly.”

Ford has not spoken publicly since July 30.

Trudeau, meanwhile, added that the funding would be on a per-capita basis and only if provinces back their systems with “an enforceable mandate” to show proof of complete vaccination for visiting non-essential businesses.

“A vaccine mandate for non-essential businesses is a good idea,” he said. “It keeps people safe, it encourages everyone to do the right thing, it keeps our businesses open and it keeps our economy rebuilding.”

RELATED: Ontario’s top doctors call for provincial vaccine passport

RELATED: Region of Peel announces mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees

On Thursday, Peel Region’s medical officer of health said officials are exploring the idea of creating their own regional COVID vaccine certificates if the Ford government doesn’t step up with a vaccine passport.

Dr. Lawrence Loh says they are in the early exploratory phase of “trying to understand what our jurisdiction might be and also what the nature of what a program might look like.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory also said he would like to see the province develop a concrete form of documentation.

“I do not understand, for the life of me, why this is such an issue,” Tory said on Thursday. “Because what you’ve got now is every company, every school board, every music venue, every sports venue, making up their own rules, and I think that is the recipe for confusion.”

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario recently published an open letter calling the Ontario and federal governments to enact vaccine passports. It says the measure is necessary to keep people safe as they enjoy the resumption of non-essential activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, going to the gym, attending concerts and sporting events, and travelling.

Premier Ford has continuously rejected the idea of his government implementing mandatory vaccine passports, even for health care workers.

The office of Ontario’s Health Minister said in a statement that there are still no plans to implement a provincewide proof-of-vaccination system.