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Castlegar chamber hears mixed opinions on vaccine passport from local businesses

Businesses concerned about the impacts of implementing the new vaccine policy
A woman looks at the Quebec government’s new vaccine passport called VaxiCode. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

The Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce (CDCC) is reporting that local reaction to the province’s vaccine passport is tremendously divided.

Last week the chamber asked its members for feedback regarding the new rules and they have now compiled their findings.

“We have seen and are aware, that the BC Chamber of Commerce and several chamber of commerces came out with immediate comment on the vaccine passport, we chose to give our membership time to provide feedback in order to fully understand from you, your concerns and where we needed to advocate on your behalf,” said CDCC executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk in an email to chamber members.

CDCC heard from members that were in support of the vaccine passport, members opposed to it and members for it, but concerned about impacts to business.

“However, what was not divided was the concern on the impacts for business on the implementation of the passport,” said Verigin-Burk.

The chamber says it will now be advocating on behalf of local businesses by sending these concerns to the provincial government and local MLA Katrine Conroy for a response.

RELATED: Castlegar mayor hopes vaccine passport provokes residents to get vaccinated

Some of what the CDCC is forwarding to the government:

• Why did the government not consult with the non-essential businesses on this? We, as well as our chamber of commerce, have asked consistently for consultation on matters that will deeply impact us.

• When is the government intending on providing information to affected businesses as right now there is absolutely no information on clarity for a program that is to be implemented September 13, adding incredible stress to us business owners?

• How will businesses deal with the cost to their businesses in implementing the passport (additional staffing at the door) when many businesses that are proposed to implement the program are already having staff shortages and significant financial issues due to the 1.5 years of dealing with closures, and other regulations that have had major impact on their businesses.

• What is the requirement for proof of passport? Card? App? Are people expected to show proof of passport every time they enter our gym? Restaurant?

• Will the government be financially compensating all of our businesses that are listed to mandate this order? This will be impossible to deliver without compensation.

• How will the government protect staff from emotional and physical abuse from irate clients being refused service due to not having a passport?

• We are deeply concerned about the proposed fines on the places of business that this will be impacting. One fine could completely put us over the financial edge and close our business. Who and how will this be monitored?

• Confusion over the fact that businesses are supposed to mandate the passport, but staff and owners themselves do not need to be vaccinated. How does this make sense?

• Is there a guarantee that this passport will end in January? If it is implemented and numbers of cases decline, will the date be reviewed?

• Will the provincial government provide grants to compensate for the loss of income?

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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