Each of Canada's 10 provinces and three territories will issue a "standardized pan-Canadian vaccine passport" rather than one developed for all by the federal government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday.
The passports will be used for Canadians traveling outside the country and the documents will have a similar look. The passports have already been established by some provinces and the rest will follow suit in November, with the federal government picking up the cost.
Vaccine passports will be needed if Canadians wish to travel by train or plane within Canada, which is the second-largest geographically in the world. They will also provide the necessary proof of full vaccinations for international travel.
The government announcement was made by Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland at a news conference in Ottawa.
But there was more meat to the conference than passports, including a plea from Trudeau to Canadians.
"Please get yourself vaccinated," he said. About 85% to 87% of those eligible have received inoculations and Trudeau said the Pfizer drug company has submitted a vaccine that is hoped to be suitable for those 5 to 11 years of age.
"This is great news," he said, adding that when and if Health Canada approves the new vaccine as expected the supply will be there to inoculate all children in that age group.
The two announcements were followed by one from Freeland, who gave details of new financial supports for Canadian businesses and families negatively affected by coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns, even as most of Canada emerges from a fourth wave of the pandemic.
The "broad-based support" instituted at the beginning of the pandemic ran up a CAN$289 billion ($233 million) deficit to date and programs will end Oct. 23, Freeland said, as virus cases drop and restrictions are eased in many parts of the country.
"We are now in a new place ... in our fight against COVID," she said. "(There are) many reasons to be optimistic."
But more targeted financial support for businesses that show a "significant revenue loss" and individuals who get caught in further lockdowns if the number of infections flare up in various areas will be available. That program is expected to carry a price tag of CAN$7.4 billion ($5.9 million.)
The program will run from Oct. 24 to May 7, 2022, she said.