Vaccine passports would boost Sask. Roughriders ticket sales: economist

One economist says fears of contracting COVID-19 is holding back fans from attending Riders games and that vaccine passports would help boost ticket sales.

Team says it's on track to sell out first home game

A Saskatchewan Roughriders fan hams it up prior to the Grey Cup on Sunday Nov. 24, 2013, in Regina. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan's COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, meaning the Roughriders can kick off the season with fans in the stands.

The Riders first game will take place at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Aug. 6 against the B.C. Lions. Single-game tickets went on sale last Monday, yet hundreds are still up for grabs, with thousands more still available for two other home games in August. 

One economist says fears of contracting COVID-19 is holding back fans from attending and that vaccine passports would help boost ticket sales.

"Now that a lot of people are vaccinated, we need to find a way to make their lives easier. And if it means a vaccine passport to access CFL events and to go see the Roughriders, then I think this is the way to go," said Miguel Ouellette, director of operations at the Montreal Economic Institute. 

Riders following province's guidelines

Roughrider director of communications Arielle Zerr said the team is tracking toward a sellout for the Aug. 6 game and will continue to follow the province's guidance in the upcoming season.

"Throughout the pandemic the Saskatchewan Roughriders have relied on the expert advice of provincial health officials to keep our staff, players, coaches and fans safe. As the province has now opened up, we will continue to rely on those experts to guide our plans as we reopen Mosaic Stadium to Rider Nation," Zerr said in an email to CBC News.

"We meet regularly with public health officials to ensure we are following their advice and best practices."

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo (7) passes as Philip Blake (53) watches B.C. Lions' Isaiah Guzylak-Messam (44) during the second half of a CFL football game on Oct. 18, 2019. The Riders kickoff their 2021 season in August. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Privacy debate

Vaccine passports have ignited a debate about privacy versus public health.

Privacy watchdogs and other experts have cited concerns about the protection of Canadians' personal information.

"While this may offer substantial public benefit, it is an encroachment on civil liberties that should be taken only after careful consideration," federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners and the ombudsperson's offices in Manitoba and New Brunswick said in a media statement in May.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has already said that the province will not require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order for people to work or attend events.

WATCH | Canadians debate civil liberty implications of vaccine passports 

The debate about COVID-19 vaccine passports

3 months ago
The debate about the use of COVID-19 vaccine passports is heating up as more people get vaccinated. Some say they can be incentives for people to get a shot and allow more normal activities to resume, but others worry about infringing on people’s freedom and privacy. 7:47

Ouellette said it's time for Canadians to be keeping economic recovery top of mind. 

Immunization certificates would help grow the economy in Saskatchewan and other provinces, too, Ouellette said.

"We've seen just with the NHL playoffs here in Montreal, the Bell Centre was almost empty. But if we said, 'OK, we accept fully vaccinated people,' well, it would have been full," he said.

"It would have made more money for the Bell Centre and more money for the restaurants, more money for the local economy. And it's the same principle with the Roughrider stadium." 

Ouellette said his institute's research suggests that the ideal scenario would be for every province to give businesses permission to choose for themselves whether they will require proof of vaccination.


Yasmine Ghania is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan, currently based in Saskatoon.


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