WATCH: Trudeau's transportation minister defends domestic vaccine passport

"There will be a time when these measures are adjusted or lifted, but we want to always err on the side of safety... I think Canadians expect a responsible government to do so."

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

Trudeau Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra appeared on CBCs Power & Politics, where he was asked by host Vassy Kapelos to explain Canada's domestic vaccine passport system.

Canada's vaccine mandate, as the CBC explains, "took effect in November 2021 to boost vaccination rates" and "prevents unvaccinated Canadians from boarding a commercial plane or train in Canada to both domestic and international destinations."

Kapelos asked Alghabra what the government's justification for keeping domestic vaccine passports in place was.

Alghabra answered by saying that many jurisdictions around the world had vaccine passport mandates in place, citing Germany and the United States, avoiding the issue of domestic travel.

Kapelos would need to redirect Alghabra back onto the topic at hand—domestic passports—before he gave his version of an answer.

"Vassy, it's all guided by our desire to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Obviously, these measures will always be reassessed and assessed, and we're constantly having discussions with our experts about when is it the right time to adjust this measure or that measure.

"The same applies to domestic travel. These measures are being done to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Just like mask-wearing, as well, on airplanes, on trains. These are done to protect the health and safety of Canadians," he continued.

"There will be a time when these measures are adjusted or lifted, but we want to always err on the side of safety... I think Canadians expect a responsible government to do so."

Health experts as of late have been pointing out that Canada's domestic vaccine mandate holds up to very little scrutiny.

Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician and an associate professor at McMaster University, wrote in The Globe and Mail three weeks ago that the logic behind vaccine mandates for travellers "no longer holds."

Chagla wrote: "We need to bring down the other limits to individual rights that don’t make medical sense. This is why we should reconsider our mandate requiring full vaccination for Canadians boarding a commercial plane or train for travel to domestic and international destinations."

Chagla argues that vaccine mandates were put in place to help prevent transmission, but as of the Omicron variant, that doesn't appear to be the case any longer.

"The efficacy of a prior infection against reinfection approaches that of two doses of vaccines; since many unvaccinated individuals have likely been infected, they may now have a similar level of immunity to their vaccinated peers. Additionally, since Canadians under the age of 12 are not currently required to be vaccinated, unvaccinated individuals have effectively been a part of travel all along – meaning that environments of exclusively vaccinated individuals do not exist."


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