Blog Jun 02, 2021

Passports Please


Like all Canadians, I can’t wait for things to get back to normal. Funny thing is that while we are all looking forward to it, no one can say with certainty what post-pandemic normal will actually be. The end state may still be a bit unclear, but, in my opinion, one of the key elements to achieving it is very much in focus. Let me use an analogy to explain. 

I like to think of our current situation in terms of a vacation we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time – can you relate? We’re on approach, peering out the aircraft window, anticipating the adventure ahead. As you step off the aircraft, you double-check that you have the one thing that opens the door to this new and exciting place – your passport! 

Vaccination passports open the door to our new normal – and most Canadians are onboard. In a recent Ipsos survey, 78% reported being in favour of a vaccination passport, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce agrees that it is the tool that will enable businesses to resume normal operations.  

“We’re all in this together,” has been a rallying cry throughout the pandemic, and it resonated clearly when businesses stepped up to do their part in Quebec’s mass-vaccination campaign. I can tell you that I was exceptionally proud to see CAE, a high-tech company, transform itself into a vaccination centre overnight. Today, 23 vaccination hubs are operating throughout the province, taking pressure off the healthcare system and accelerating the pace of vaccinations.  

The next step to close the loop in the vaccination campaign is to give everyone who has been vaccinated a means to prove it. As a Co-Chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Recovery Leadership Council, I’m calling on the federal and provincial governments to lead the way and move forward with a vaccination passport that allows businesses to fully and safely resume their activities. 

There are many important ethical, security and logistical issues to consider in the creation of a vaccination passport.  

First and foremost, the vaccination passport must be accessible to everyone, and take into account the varying levels of access to digital technology in our communities.  

Second, a vaccination passport must ensure the highest levels of cybersecurity to protect the privacy of Canadians’ data.  

Third, a vaccination passport must be recognized in every Canadian province and internationally. We have to ensure that our vaccine records are compatible with other countries’ protocols and systems. We must also ensure international travellers to Canada have reliable credentials to limit propagation of COVID-19 and especially new variants. 

The good news is that the Canadian Government doesn’t have to start from scratch, and existing applications like the ArriveCAN app could be further developed to meet all of these requirements. The European Union is moving ahead with their vaccination passport and many G20 countries are doing the same. Canada is at a turning point and must do the same. 

What the pandemic has taken in terms of restrictions, it has given back in spades in terms of ingenuity and innovation. We have the talent in Canada to develop a vaccination passport. We must engage technology, privacy cyber security and healthcare experts to develop the passport and guidelines that will get people back to work, businesses back to full operation, and international travel back on the map.  

The vaccine is our ticket to good health. The vaccination passport is our ticket to a return to life as we hope it will be. So, as you step off the aircraft for that well-deserved vacation, make sure you have both your passports – and enjoy your trip! 

Marc Parent, C.M. 
President and Chief Executive Officer, CAE 

Marc Parent was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of CAE in 2009 and is currently co-chair of our COVID-19 Recovery Leadership Council.  

The council works to help develop practical solutions to reduce and ultimately eliminate COVID-19 in Canada and pave the way for a business-led economic recovery. The council members will also draw upon their experiences with managing COVID-19 at their respective companies to develop best practices businesses and other organizations can adopt. 

Click here for more information on our COVID-19 Recovery Leadership Council and to read more about our Business-led Recovery initiative click here