Saskatchewan will not require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order for people to work or attend events in the province, Premier Scott Moe says.
The province is lifting all of its remaining pandemic restrictions on July 11, and the emergency order that has prevented mass gatherings will end on that date as well, Moe announced Tuesday.
The province declared a state of emergency on March 18, 2020, one week after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
The order, which has been extended every two weeks since mid-March, gave the government broad powers to address the pandemic.
But Moe, citing privacy laws, said with the order lifting, the province won't be in a position to demand that people provide proof of immunization for jobs or to attend events.
"With respect to provincial vaccine passports, or requirements to be vaccinated to attend certain events or work in certain areas of that nature, the government of Saskatchewan is not moving in that direction," Moe said Tuesday during the province's COVID-19 update.
Privacy concerns: health authority CEO
Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said asking somebody for proof of COVID-19 vaccination would violate the province's Health Information Protection Act.
"Even giving your health card number is personal health information. Banks are not allowed to ask for your health card number and nobody else is for a form of ID," said Livingstone. "It is personal information, and so is vaccination status."
Livingstone said the legislation states individuals are not required to provide their health card information to anyone, and others can't ask for it, unless it is related to the provision of health services.
Ron Kruzeniski, Saskatchewan's privacy commissioner, is also advising employers and organizations to speak with their lawyers before asking employees if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Federal and provincial privacy watchdogs have also raised their own warnings about vaccine passports.
While Saskatchewan won't require proof of vaccination, that may be required in other jurisdictions, both nationally and internationally.
As of July 5, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents will be able to re-enter the country without having to quarantine, provided they meet certain conditions — including electronically submitting proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.
Similarly, in Saskatchewan's neighbouring province of Manitoba, travellers with a vaccination card will be able to avoid a two-week self-isolation period after travel within Canada.
Some say the Manitoba's vaccine card will help travel and entertainment take off, while critics fear it could infringe on people's rights.
WATCH | Manitoba's vaccine passport could infringe rights, say critics: