Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas speaking in the House of Commons. (File photo)

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas speaking in the House of Commons. (File photo)

Okanagan MP cites post-pandemic travel restriction concerns

Dan Albas says having different guidelines adapted by each province will impact tourism and people’s jobs

A demonstration of proof for a COVID-19 vaccination could pose challenges for Canadian travellers and workers, says the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

Dan Albas says requiring a so-called vaccination passport or some other proof of documentation you have received a vaccine shot is an issue Opposition MPs are awaiting direction on from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Albas says the worldwide discussion about vaccination proof for those seeking to access the United Kingdom or Western European countries is already taking place, while other countries look at enacting their specific policies.

The question for Canada, Albas says, is not only international travel but also inter-provincial travel such as in Manitoba there might be different jurisdictional procedures it adopts compared to a Quebec or British Columbia.

“It is within the purview of each province, not the federal government, to set public health standards,” Albas said.

That is further complicated, he notes, by the fact, COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory.

READ MORE: Healthcare workers first to get COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna

READ MORE: Penticton vaccinating 240 people per day

“It can affect a person’s livelihood where they don’t have a vaccine shot and are restricted because of it from travelling from one province to another,” he said.

He noted tourism operators in Kelowna have already started receiving calls from vaccinated Americans looking to travel to the region only to be told of the two-week quarantine regulations set by the federal government for access to Canada are still in place.

“Tourism is an important part of our economy in B.C. so placing any restrictions on that in a post-pandemic world is going to cause problems,” he said.

That is particularly critical to U.S. travel as millions of Americans are refusing to receive a vaccine. A recent poll found 48 per cent of male Republican Party members did not intend to receive the vaccine.

“Our tourism industry in the Okanagan and Nicola is very much connected to U.S. road traffic,” he said.

Albas added currently Ottawa distributes the various vaccine doses to the provinces without any record of where they are administered and to who.

“There is a bar code with every dose that goes out but it is up to the province to track who actually gets vaccinated and provide that documentation proof to vaccine recipients,” he said, in response to the question of how some people can prove they had the shot.

In B.C., the ministry of health says you have the option to receive a paper or digital copy of your immunization record card.

The ministry recommends registering for Health Gateway online, where your digital immunization card will be available only after you receive the vaccine.

Your immunization record will also be stored in the online provincial database, accessible only to you, public health and your doctor.

Next Tuesday, March 23, is Opposition Day in Parliament when Albas says opposition MPs have an open opportunity to question the Liberal government on policy questions.

“We are all looking for a plan at this point about how the Liberals are going to restart the economy. Our biggest criticism right now is not being sure of where the government is going on this,” Albas noted, citing for example of restricting flight access to some international destinations for Canadian airlines, a restriction not followed by other international airlines.

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