Montreal

Quebec's vaccine passports don't require a smartphone, but homeless groups still worried

Quebec's vaccine passport takes effect on Wednesday, meaning all people who are adequately vaccinated will have to show their phones to get into non-essential services ranging from cinemas to restaurants.

Printed versions are acceptable and homeless people don't need passport to eat in restaurants

In Quebec, a vaccination passport called VaxiCode will take effect on Sept. 1 with a two-week grace period for people and businesses to adapt. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Quebec's vaccine passport takes effect on Wednesday, meaning all people who are adequately vaccinated will have to show their phones to get into non-essential services ranging from cinemas to restaurants.

But what about those who don't have phones? And even if you have a smartphone in your pocket, what if the battery dies?

That's when carrying around the print version comes in handy.

Quebec public health says the quick response (QR) code that restaurants, bars and zoos will be scanning at the door can be printed.

"We suggest printing it in business-card format," the agency says on its website.

However, the print version can easily get lost or stolen. That's something David Chapman knows all too well. He's executive director of the homeless advocacy group Resilience Montreal, and he has seen for himself what homeless people go through on a daily basis.

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One woman, he said, had a piece of paper showing she was vaccinated but then her backpack was stolen three times in the last two months.

Beyond that, Chapman said many people experiencing homelessness don't have phones.

Quebec says homeless people will be exempt from the requirement to present a vaccination passport to access restaurant dining rooms and patios, as well as food courts in shopping malls, for example. It's not clear how people will prove they are homeless.

Chapman said he's worried how this exemption will be applied.

"Our so-called civilized society is not always so civilized when it comes to thinking about the homeless," Chapman said.

"And frequently they are our last consideration when policies are created. So it's going to be interesting to see how this actually works in practise."

While there is an app to display your QR code, it's not necessary, according to the province. The passport can be displayed in PDF format as well, allowing the code to be scanned.

But whichever method you choose, you must also show a photo ID.

"Every single day we are helping people replace IDs. Every single day," said Chapman.

The Old Brewery Mission is among places working to ensure vaccinated homeless people have access to proof they've been adequately dosed.

Anna Torres, who works as the women's resources co-ordinator with the mission, said the organization is taking a proactive approach, printing documents or helping people get the QR code.

"If for any reason they can't have it printed, we will accompany them to the CLSC to get the proof of vaccination," she said.

As for those who don't have a printer, internet or smartphone, Quebec suggests calling public health for help at 1-877-644-4545.

Paper proof of your vaccination will be sent to you. Quebec says people can laminate the paper version of their vaccine passport if they wish.

For a complete list of where these vaccination passports will be required, visit here. 

with files from Rowan Kennedy

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