Several communities of faith have inquired if the vaccine passport being instituted in Ontario applies to them.
The legal advice the regional council has received to date is that communities of faith do not have grounds to request this information. Privacy legislation protects medical information and there has been no provincial action mandating such information be shared in a community of faith. In fact, worshiping communities have been specifically exempted from the vaccine passport.
There is also the ethical/faith issue of denying people access to the church. How do we make the faith available to all and protect those who gather?
Communities of faith are encouraged to:
- continue to follow provincial legislation and local public health advice when gathering in person;
- screen attendees at any in-person event and maintain their contact information;
- follow best practices when in-person: masks, maintain social distance, manage traffic flow through the building, provide sanitizer, minimize contact, follow advice re singing).
Several months ago Dr. Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, met with religious leaders asking us to encourage vaccinations. Dr. Tam outlined the research behind the vaccine and its safety and asked faith leaders to be partners in promoting vaccinations. Communities of faith are encouraged to follow these steps to manage risk.
This is our current advice. Throughout the pandemic, advice has changed based on new information. We will keep you posted if new information comes our way. As always, the decision rests with the governing body of the community of faith and these are recommendations to them.
Any governing body that feels vaccine passports should be required for worship is encouraged to write their local Member of Provincial Parliament, Minister of Health, the Honorable Christine Elliott and Premier, the Honorable Doug Ford, to advocate for an expansion of the legislation.