Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca is calling on the Ford government to make proof of vaccination mandatory for access to LCBO and cannabis stores.
Del Duca made the request during a news conference on Tuesday morning, as he discussed Ontario’s plans to begin lifting public health restrictions as of Jan. 31.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also made a similar proposal earlier this week.
“In essence, this is my call out to Doug Ford to say given all of the lessons that we have learned during this pandemic, lessons that I would have hoped that Doug Ford himself would have learned this is not the time to be weak and this is not the time to be half-hearted,” Del Duca said. “We need real responsible and competent leadership at this moment to make sure that as the reopening happens and school starts and as the restrictions start to get lifted, that we are positioned to make sure again that we don't have to go backwards.”
The Ford government currently requires that Ontarians present proof of vaccination to dine-in at restaurants and bars and access a number of other non-essential settings, including gyms and theatres.
But it has not extended the vaccine certificate requirements to any retail establishments to date.
In Quebec officials have taken that step and as of Monday residents have to provide proof of vaccination to enter big-box stores with a surface area of more than 1,500 square metres, with the exception of grocery stores or pharmacies.
The province also requires proof of vaccination for access to government-run liquor and cannabis stores.
In Ontario employees of the LCBO are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a union representative from the Ontario Public Service Employees' Union told CP24 unvaccinated employees must submit to regular rapid testing and are provided with up to 20 rapid tests per month.
Speaking with reporters, Del Duca conceded that the Ford government has not shown any interest in expanding the vaccine certificate system program and actually had planned to lift the requirements prior to the detection of the Omicron variant.
Del Duca, however, said that he will keep calling for it “because it is the right thing to do.”
The Liberal leader also said that he will lobby the Ford government to alter the definition of fully vaccinated so that three doses are required.
“We know that workers on the frontlines in retail and healthcare and education are beyond the point of fatigue, they are burned out. We need to make sure that every tool available to us is being used and used appropriately to make sure that we don't go backwards,” he said. “I believe this is that moment to take that extra step to show real responsible, competent and strong leadership.”