vaccine passports toronto

No charges laid in Toronto during first week of Ontario vaccine passport program

Now more than one week into the vaccine passport era of this strange chapter in Ontario history, the City of Toronto is reporting that zero fines have been issued to date for non-compliance with the regulations.

This doesn't mean that every business owner or patron has been following the rules, of course, as we all well know at this point: Some are actively thumbing their noses at the mandatory program, which requires people to show proof-of-vaccination documents before entering bars, restaurants, theatres, gyms and other select indoor environments.

Complaints are coming in, though, and inspections are being carried out — hundreds of them, according to Mayor John Tory, who on Wednesday provided an official COVID-19 update to reporters.

"We've had just over 500 complaints in a city of three million people with thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of businesses," said Tory during the press conference. "We've had just over 500 complaints from all sources — Toronto Public Health, 311, the police —  and that's over the course of a week."

While 500 complaints does seem relatively minuscule compared to the number of businesses in Toronto, the number of charges and fines issued as a result of those complaints is literally non-existent.

This is because the city, like the provincial government, is taking an education-forward approach toward enforcing the fourth-wave certificate measures, at least for now.

"In general and commonly what we're experiencing is there is some confusion and some misunderstanding still with respect to the requirements, explained Toronto Fire Chief and Office of Emergency Management lead Chief Matthew Pegg during the update on Wednesday.

"We are able to provide some assistance in clarifying those things, and working with businesses to make sure that they have the understanding and have the tools that they need to comply."

Pegg confirmed on Wednesday that only a "very small number" of formal warnings have been issued since the new rules came into effect on September 22

"We have not had to lay any charges in response to the investigations that have been completed. I think that just speaks to the overall atmosphere and overall compliance rate that is out there," he said.

Tory similarly underscored the point that the number of complaints has been relatively low, and that most businesses inspected over the past week were found to be in compliance with regulations.

"The vast majority of hard working, law abiding businesses and people are following what I think they've come to understand as a very practical regulation that is in the best interest of our collective health, and in the best interest, quite frankly, at keeping those very same businesses open together with schools and entertainment and sports venues," said the mayor.

More than 80 per cent of eligible Toronto residents are now fully vaccinated, and more than 85 per cent have had at least one first dose. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford assured residents on Wednesday that mandatory proof-of-vaccination certificate rules wouldn't stay in place forever, calling them "exceptional measures" that are only being introduced "on a temporary basis."

"There are a lot of people who are concerned about this policy and I want you to know that I hear you. I understand your concerns about protecting your civil liberties and right to privacy," said Ford at the time.

"While many fully vaccinated people like myself share these concerns, the greater concern is having to shut down again or experience a sudden surge in cases like in Alberta and Saskatchewan."

Lead photo by

A Great Capture


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