B.C.'s vaccine passport will likely make life more difficult for homeless people, advocates say

·2 min read
Advocates are concerned about how B.C.'s vaccine passport system will affect those who are homeless. (David Donnelly/CBC - image credit)
Advocates are concerned about how B.C.'s vaccine passport system will affect those who are homeless. (David Donnelly/CBC - image credit)

People who experience homelessness in B.C. and those who advocate for them say they're worried about how the province's vaccine passport will impact their day-to-day lives.

Lynette Perrault, who says she has lived in and out of shelters for most of her adult life, says a lot of people like her don't have ID or a cellphone.

"I got my purse stolen. I don't have my ID right now," Perrault said.

Even though she is fully vaccinated, when B.C.'s vaccine passport comes into effect on Sept. 13, Perrault worries she won't be able to access public spaces like libraries, restaurants and community centres.

Meenakshi Mannoe with the Pivot Legal Society says people who are homeless and disenfranchised rely on spaces like fast food restaurants and other public spaces to get by.

"Things that may be non-essential to the mainstream public are actually a huge lifeline to people," Mannoe said.

John Lehmann
John Lehmann

The province says it's developing a secure passport alternative for people without easy access to the internet, but it has yet to roll out those details.

Pivot Legal Society is seeking more specifics while preparing several recommendations and asking that the government listen to people affected by homelessness.

"Those consequences are going to come down hard on the most disenfranchised folks in our society," she said.

'They already feel shunned'

Sarah Blyth has worked on the Downtown Eastside for 15 years. She says additional barriers imposed upon marginalized people are going to make their lives that much more difficult.

"There's got to be a way for these people to access services in a dignified way, where they're not shunned or told to go away because they don't have a passport," she said.

"They already feel shunned, they already feel shamed."

According to the latest Metro Vancouver homeless count, 3,634 people in the region say they are experiencing homelessness.

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