Ontario COVID-19 vaccine passport: What you need to know about the certificate, fines and exemptions

·4 min read

Ontario's proof of vaccination system comes into effect on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

"I know that this is a divisive issue and that’s understandable," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Tueday.

"I want you to know that I hear you, our government understands your concerns, and it’s no secret that I was reluctant to use this tool but our highest concern, what keeps me up at night, is ensuring we never lose our hard-fought progress. 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."Ontario Premier Doug Ford

How do you download a vaccine certificate? 

Check your email first

The dose administration receipt for Ontarians was sent from the email address covaxon@ontario.ca after they received each vaccine dose. You can search for the vaccine proof in your email by using the keyword "COVaxON".

Green health card: Ontarians with a green health card will have to print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal

Red and white health card: Those with a red and white health card can call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900. 

Where do I have to show a vaccine certificate?

People in the province will have to show vaccine proof, and a piece of photo ID to access the following settings:

  • Indoor areas of restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments

  • Indoor and outdoor areas of food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs

  • Indoor areas of meeting and event spaces

  • Indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, including waterparks and gyms

  • 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 tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues

  • Indoor areas where commercial film and TV productions take place with studio audiences

When will the vaccine certificate go digital?

On Oct. 22, the "enhanced vaccine certificate" will be available for Ontarians, with a scannable QR code, and the verification app will be available for businesses as well. Following this date, individuals can continue to use the printed version.

Are there any exemptions?

Individuals can get a medical exemption that will allow them to enter all settings without proof of vaccination in Ontario.

"Generally speaking, there are very few acceptable medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination (e.g., an allergist/immunologist-confirmed severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components that cannot be mitigated; a diagnosed episode of myocarditis/pericarditis after receipt of an mRNA vaccine)," guidance from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario reads.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province's chief medical officer of health, stressed that the registrar from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requires that anyone issuing an exemption "must put the exact reason for medical exemption, as well as the duration that that medical exemption should be in place, as well as identify yourself and your college identification."                 

"There are forms that will standardize this for nurse practitioners, as well as physicians, and a standardized exemption format," Dr. Moore said. "If there is abuse of this...there may be professional discipline for them and if there's fraud, there is a process through the reopening of Ontario act enforcement that can deal with the fraud aspect."

Each individual's medical exemption will be embedded into the QR code when the enhanced vaccine certificate is available.

We know that there are some people that aren't able to receive the vaccine, we don't want them to be turned away from establishments.Christine Elliott, Ontario Health Minister

Additionally, between Sept. 22 and Oct. 13, individuals may provide proof of a negative antigen test to attend an indoor social gathering specifically associated with a wedding service, rite or ceremony, or a funeral service, rite or ceremony in certain meeting or event spaces.

How will the proof of vaccination system be enforced?

Bylaw enforcement officers will be monitoring the implementation and execution of the proof of vaccination system.

Ford said enforcement will "lead with education."

For anyone working at a business who is in a situation where they "feel threatened" while trying to verify a patron's vaccination status, the deputy premier said they should call 911.

"If there are any businesses that are concerned that when they refuse entry to a restaurant, a gym, or whatever it happens to be, that if at any point they feel threatened, we want them to call 911 as soon as possible to make sure that police officers can be there to assist," Ontario's Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott said last week. "We want to make sure that everyone conforms to these rules."

When asked if she's concerned about the volume of calls that may come in to police, Elliott said she does not anticipate that there will be a lot of demand there.

Under the Reopening Ontario Act, fines for individuals who do not comply start at $750.

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