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Ontario's digital vaccine certificate available for download, Ford to speak Friday

The Ford government says the app will collect no personally identifiable information
Verify Ontario app
Screenshot from the Verify Ontario app

Premier Doug Ford will hold a news conference on Friday during which he’s expected to expand on the province’s QR code and verification app to help businesses streamline the “proof of vaccination” process.

Ford will be joined by health minister Christine Elliott and chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, at 11 a.m.

The digital app was expected to be launched one week from tomorrow, on October 22nd, but appears to have been released ahead of time on the Google and Apple app store platforms.

The personal QR code, called “Verify Ontario,” will be available through the portal individuals used to access the previous version of a vaccine certificate.

Since September 22nd, individuals have been tasked with providing proof of immunization by downloading or printing their vaccine receipt from the provincial booking portal.

The Ford government has said it’s committed to developing an “enhanced vaccine certificate” that includes a unique QR code and accompanying verification app that will allow users to securely and safely verify their vaccination status when scanned. The code could be stored on a mobile device, such as Apple Wallet.

The system will accept QR codes from British Columbia, Québec and Yukon, meaning travellers from those provinces will enter Ontario establishments that require vaccination status safely.

The Ford government says the app will collect no personally identifiable information. It will not request the user’s location or save any information that links specific areas, visitors or businesses to each other. Verified proofs of vaccinations are displayed for 30 seconds and then deleted.

As well, no personal health information is displayed or shared.

Ford’s public appearance comes amidst speculation that Ontario will soon announce a plan for moving beyond the province’s current reopening framework, including ending capacity limits in venues such as restaurants and gyms where proof of vaccination is required.

A government source, who wasn’t authorized to speak about the pending announcement publicly, informed the Canadian Press that the province will release a plan late next week that will “contemplate when capacity limits can be lifted.”

Ford’s office did not immediately respond to CityNews Toronto when reached for comment.

The province paused plans in mid-August to exit Step 3 of its reopening framework as fourth wave cases rose. Now, daily COVID-19 case counts are stable, and more than 87 per cent of eligible Ontarians have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Cinemas, theatres, concert venues, meeting and event spaces, and spectator sports venues were allowed to open with 100 per cent capacity as of Saturday, and physical distancing mainly isn’t required.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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