Ford asks for patience as COVID-19 vaccine certificate comes into effect in Ontario

Faiza Amin joins us from the restaurant Salad King with owner Alan Liu, to chat about what businesses are expecting as vaccine passports take into effect across the province.

By The Canadian Press and News staff

Ontario’s new COVID-19 vaccine certificate system is in effect.

Patrons at dine-in restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, sports facilities and other venues must present a receipt of full vaccination along with government identification. Proof of vaccination will not be required to enter essential businesses and services like grocery stores or pharmacies.

Doctors’ notes for medical exemptions will also be accepted.

Premier Doug Ford asked residents Wednesday in his first press conference in weeks to be patient with business owners as they work out how to implement the vaccine passport. He added they will be leading with education, rather than enforcement in the first few weeks. Watch it live on

Ford also tweeted about the vaccine certificates earlier in the day, encouraging Ontarians to respect the new system.

“I know this may be tough for some, but we owe it to our businesses to do everything we can to avoid lockdowns,” he said. “Please be patient. Let’s all continue to support our amazing businesses.”

Ford also said he would only keep the passports in effect for as long as needed.

Ontarians can print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal. Initially, the province said the site would be down for maintenance until Wednesday at 8 a.m. but it was up and running shortly before then.

Proof of vaccination will be required to access the following:

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout)
  • Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment)
  • Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres
  • Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities except for youth recreational sport
  • Sporting events
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs
  • Racing venues (e.g. horse racing)


The premier said Tuesday that he understands that some people are concerned their civil liberties are being infringed upon. But he said the greater concern is experiencing a sudden surge in infections and having to lock down the province again.

The province’s top public health doctor has asked Ontarians to be “kind and considerate” as the system takes effect.

Dr. Kieran Moore has also said he believes the system will lead to a boost in vaccinations, particularly among those aged 20 to 39 since that cohort often frequents venues covered by the system.

Fines are possible for businesses that don’t comply with the checks required by the system, and for patrons who give false information. But businesses, bylaw officers, police forces and the province say enforcement will be gentle at first.

Businesses have said they feel prepared to implement the system but are uncertain how patrons will respond to it.

James Rilett, Restaurants Canada’s vice-president for Central Canada, said restaurants are “as prepared as they can be” but are expecting “some loss of business” and confrontations with some patrons.

Ryan Mallough, senior director of Ontario affairs at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said businesses have a “decent understanding” of what’s required but there’s “some stress and anxiety around what happens in a moment that doesn’t go smoothly.”

While venues will have to check paper or digital vaccine receipts with identification at first, the province has said it aims to launch a QR code and verification app for businesses on Oct. 22 to streamline the process.

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