CALGARY — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta will not be following the lead of Quebec and Manitoba on vaccine passports.
Quebec intends to bring in the passports, beginning in September, for anyone wanting to visit non-essential businesses in parts of the province where the COVID-19 rate is high.
Manitoba has been issuing proof-of-immunization cards to residents who are two weeks past their second shot.
"We've been very clear from the beginning that we will not facilitate or accept vaccine passports," Kenney told reporters at his annual Calgary Stampede pancake breakfast Monday.
"I believe they would in principle contravene the Health Information Act and also possibly the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act."
Kenney replied "yes" when asked if Alberta would speak up if the federal government attempted to bring in the passports.
Kenney noted Alberta also amended its Public Health Act to remove a 100-year-old power allowing the government to force people to be inoculated. "These folks who are concerned about mandatory vaccines have nothing to be concerned about," he said.
Hundreds of people attended the breakfast. But the shadow of COVID-19 hung over the event. Gone were lineups watching food being prepared on the grill. Instead, containers with pancakes and eggs already dished up were handed out.
"Are you having a good Stampede? Are you happy Alberta is open for summer and that Alberta will be open for good?" Kenney asked the cheering crowd.
"We're proud to be hosting the first major event in Canada with the Stampede as we emerge from the pandemic."
There were also jeers and chants from about a dozen protesters opposed to Alberta's vaccination program and the lockdowns that were put in place during the height of the pandemic.
One sign had photos of Kenney and Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro with the words: "Alberta's Most Wanted — For Crimes Against Humanity."
"It's unfortunate that we have a loud, but very small minority, who are spreading misinformation about the safety of vaccines. Let me be clear about this: these people are trying to spread fear and misinformation that could ultimately cost lives," said Kenney.
Alberta has administered more than four million doses, said the premier, who added that about 700 people have had adverse effects which were mostly minor.
"We've had one death," he said. "Every death is tragic, but it's one death from a vaccine adverse outcome as opposed to 2,400 COVID-19 deaths."
The premier said he would like to see 80 per cent of eligible Albertans receive the vaccine, but estimated about 10 per cent will refuse no matter what.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2021.
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press