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New Democrats propose Alberta vaccine passport

New Democrat leader Rachel Notley said Thursday Alberta should introduce a vaccine passport that can be scanned.

With Alberta mired in a fourth wave of COVID-19, New Democrat leader Rachel Notley last week proposed an electronic “vaccine passport.”

The passport would be available on smart phones or could be downloaded on-line.

“Let’s be clear,” Notley said. “Vaccine verification is coming to Alberta whether (Premier) Jason Kenney likes it or not.”

“This is coming, and if we don’t act now I fear we will reach a place where Albertans will be scrambling to catch up with the rest of the world, and our health care and our economy will have been needlessly injured in the process.”

The passport would feature a QR code unique to each person that could be easily scanned to provide proof of vaccination.

Notley and other party officials introduced the vaccine passport during a news conference Thursday at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.

The vaccine passport could be scanned at airports, arenas, concerts, businesses and other places where large numbers of people gather and Notley said proof of vaccination should be mandatory to gain entry.

“By providing Albertans with easy, secure access to their immunization records while establishing a verification standard for non-essential public settings, Albertans can protect their neighbours and at the same time continue to do the things they love to do,” Notley said.

The passport when scanned would provide a secure “yes” or “no” verification specific to COVID-19.

“No one wants to go back to restrictions,” New Democrat MLA David Shepherd said. “We need a better path forward.”

As the fourth wave surges and more people get stick and wind up in hospitals and intensive care units, Alberta risks wasting the sacrifices made since March 2020. 

Shepherd said the vaccine passport is the way to go.

“We need to better protect our public health, protect our economy and protect our province,” Shepherd said.

Notley pointed out Thursday that more than 12,000 people in Alberta had COVID-19, with 465 of them in hospital and 107 in ICU.

“Alberta has the highest number of cases in Canada — more than twice the number of active cases than the next highest province, British Columbia” Notley said. “It is now clear we are in a fourth wave.”

More than 90 per cent of Albertans who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.

More than 1.1-million eligible Albertans are not fully vaccinated, as well as 660,000 ineligible children under the age of 12 years.

“The trend line is clear: this will get worse before it gets better.,” Notley said. “And this means more Albertans will be hospitalized and more lives will be lost at a time when health care workers are desperately exhausted.”

Notley said health care officials have warned the system has limits, and she is concerned Alberta is testing that limit with the fourth wave of COVID-19.

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