Andrew Fletcher said he’s fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, but now he’s worried how he’ll be able to prove it.
Ontario announced a vaccine-certificate plan on Wednesday. It’s a tool meant to stop the spread of the virus and prevent future lockdowns.
The plan will require documentation to access what the province says are “high-risk” spaces such as gyms, restaurants and cinemas, making it the latest in the wave of proof-of-vaccination protocols that have been announced for facilities, workplaces and other services across Ontario cities in recent weeks.
They are policies that Fletcher, who is staying in an encampment in Hamilton and said he’s been on the street off and on for the past six years, says are going to make life difficult for people like him who experience homelessness.
“The majority of us, myself included, don’t have identification at all,” said Fletcher, 60. “So, how are we going to get these passports?”
It’s a concern advocates share. They’re questioning how the proof of vaccination system is going to work for those who don’t have access to a printer, let alone a smartphone.
The “enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate” system, as the provincial government is calling it, will come into effect on Sept. 22. To start, it will require that, in order to enter certain spaces, people provide a piece of photo ID, along with a printout or PDF of vaccine receipts.
It’s a requirement that immediately caught the attention of Don Seymour, executive director of Wesley, a non-profit organization which provides support for marginalized and vulnerable people in Hamilton.
“There are a lot of complications in this,” he said, following the premier’s announcement Wednesday afternoon.
“For instance, you can print off your vaccine certificate. How many people have printers that are homeless?”
Then there’s the added ID requirement Fletcher also flagged as an issue.
Even if someone was able to print off their certificate, they’ll need to hang onto it and some form of identification, something Seymour said can be difficult for people dealing with addiction, mental health issues or living rough.
“A certificate is only as good as whether you can hang onto it or not,” he said. “A lot of the folks we work with lose their ID a lot.”
Brother Richard MacPhee, CEO of Good Shepherd, which also serves vulnerable people in Hamilton, said vaccine certification is something his organization has been “struggling with.”
“I think it could be a major barrier,” he said. “Particularly for folks that have an issue of mental health issues and are reluctant to take the vaccine.”
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/homeless-vaccine-passport-ontario-1.6161250