What we know so far about Yukon's plan to verify whether someone is fully vaccinated

·3 min read
COVID-19 vaccination record cards used in Miami, Fla. Yukon government officials say they have a plan to verify whether someone arriving in Yukon is fully vaccinated. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
COVID-19 vaccination record cards used in Miami, Fla. Yukon government officials say they have a plan to verify whether someone arriving in Yukon is fully vaccinated. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

Questions are swirling inside Yukon's Legislative Assembly this week regarding the territorial government's plan to verify whether certain travellers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The territory's privacy commissioner is also weighing in, saying the government must carefully follow the rules around handling medical records.

"People who are considering crossing the border are concerned about what rules are in place," Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers told reporters. "They're concerned about whether their health information is protected."

Come May 25, those who can prove they're fully vaccinated won't need to self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in the territory.

How travellers will prove that exactly, and by what means, are where concerns from the opposition bench lie.

Government officials said this week that if someone wants to avoid the self-isolation period on arrival in Yukon, they will need to declare they've received two shots. In a bid to corroborate whether someone has, in fact, been fully vaccinated, travellers will be required to sign a consent waiver so the government can access their medical records.

The Official Opposition has been demanding answers on how the government will ensure that information is safeguarded.

Yukoners are 'concerned about whether their health information is protected,' said Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers.
Yukoners are 'concerned about whether their health information is protected,' said Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers.(Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Cathers said it remains unclear how medical records will be handled, and, with self-isolation restrictions easing in a matter of days, time is running out to clarify how they will be.

Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said Yukoners needn't worry — the government has the matter well in-hand.

"We will do everything possible to make sure that we can verify vaccines in the least intrusive way and protect Yukoners," she said. "Privacy of individuals' healthcare records is absolutely paramount."

Government needs to exercise caution: privacy commissioner

There's a law that's specific to protecting people's medical records in the territory. Aptly named the Health Information Privacy and Management Act, this legislation places checks and balances on the collection, use and disclosure of these records.

The government needs to closely follow it, said Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon's information and privacy commissioner.

"They have to make sure they're meeting those specific authorities and, of course, making sure there's adequate security for any information that they're collecting," she said.

Immunization records are provided to Yukoners who have been vaccinated. Earlier this week, McPhee told reporters there's a possibility people can use them as another layer of proof.

But McLeod-McKay said those records are susceptible to fraud.

"It's not a secure piece of information," she said. "That explains to me why they're going to the medical record, because the medical record is the only thing they're going to get that actual proof."

Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay said she's 'more than happy to help' ensure that people's privacy is adequately protected, but she hasn't yet been contacted by the government.
Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay said she's 'more than happy to help' ensure that people's privacy is adequately protected, but she hasn't yet been contacted by the government. (Alistair Maitland)

McLeod-Mckay said she hasn't been contacted by the Yukon government regarding its vaccine verification plans.

"If they want my assistance, I'm more than happy to help them with it," she said.

Yukon ready to verify travellers, but only Yukoners and B.C. residents

During a news conference on Wednesday, Premier Sandy Silver said Yukon is prepared to verify those who are returning to Yukon or residents of B.C. The same doesn't hold true for verifying travellers from around the country, he said.

"I think we've been very clear that the proof required, we're very confident for Yukoners and we're very confident for people from British Columbia and we'll be working out the details for all other regions," he said.

Developing a vaccine certificate, which would, in theory, make for more seamless travel, is being debated around the world.

McPhee said such a certificate, while being considered across the country, is still a far-off prospect in Yukon.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting