In advance of October 22, the Ontario government is making the enhanced vaccine certificate with official QR code and the free, made-in Ontario verification app, Verify Ontario, available for download. Together, these tools will make it easier, more secure and convenient for individuals to provide proof of vaccination where required to do so, and for businesses and organizations to verify vaccine certificates while protecting people’s privacy.
“I want to thank every Ontarian for their patience and cooperation as we’ve implemented our proof of vaccination policy,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The enhanced vaccine certificates and Verify Ontario app will give our businesses further comfort in their ability to operate safely as we take further steps to protect people’s privacy. These certificates remain a key element of our plan to protect the gains we have made while avoiding future lockdowns.”
To ensure a smooth user experience, the province is initially making the enhanced vaccine certificates available for download in cohorts. Enhanced vaccine certificates with official QR codes will be made available for download from the COVID-19 vaccination portal over three days based on birth month:
October 15, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between January and April
October 16, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between May and August
October 17, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between September to December
Starting October 18 at 6:00 a.m., the portal will open for any individual to download their enhanced vaccine certificate, regardless of their birth month. Individuals can also call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to have their enhanced vaccine certificate emailed or mailed to them.
People can save the electronic version of their vaccine certificate with a QR code to their phone or print a paper copy. Businesses must accept both electronic and paper versions. In addition, while the current vaccine receipt without a QR code remains valid and will continue to be accepted, the province is encouraging individuals to download their enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code as an easier, more secure and convenient way to have their proof of vaccination verified. Ontarians will need to continue to show a piece of identification with their name and date of birth along with their proof of vaccination when visiting select businesses and organizations.
Ontario’s enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code is built to the SMART Health Card standard adopted by the federal government in collaboration with provinces and territories. To support Ontarians who are travelling internationally, Ontario is also including the Government of Canada logo on the enhanced vaccine certificate.
“Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing Ontarians can do to protect themselves and their communities,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We are making it simpler, faster and more convenient for Ontarians to show their proof of vaccination, allowing them to safely access businesses and other settings across the province. If you haven’t yet received your vaccine, please do so today.”
In addition, businesses and organizations can now download the free Verify Ontario app from the Apple App and Google Play stores. The app has been made available in advance of October 22 to ensure businesses and organizations download the app and have sufficient time to become familiar with it. The made-in-Ontario app has been designed to help businesses by making it quicker and easier to confirm if a person is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while protecting their privacy. The Verify Ontario app for businesses can be used without an internet connection, but like any app it will need to connect to the internet periodically to keep it up to date. The app never stores personal information and only shows the minimum amount of information necessary to confirm vaccination
Verify Ontario will only scan and read official, government issued QR codes, such as Ontario’s vaccine certificate and those SMART Health Codes from other provinces including Quebec, British Columbia and Yukon Territory.
The Ontario Digital Service at the Associate Ministry of Digital Government collaborated with the Ministry of Health to deliver the Verify Ontario app. Extensive user research and stakeholder consultations were conducted with businesses to ensure the app would be easy to use.
“The Verify Ontario app will support Ontario businesses, protect our hard-fought progress by making it quicker and easier to confirm if a person is fully vaccinated, while protecting their privacy,” said Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government. “I encourage all Ontarians to get an official enhanced vaccine certificate with an official QR code, and businesses to download and use our Verify Ontario app.”
Since the proof of vaccination requirement went into effect, the province has reached two key milestones in its COVID-19 response with more than 87 per cent of individuals aged 12 and over vaccinated with at least a first dose and more than 82 per cent with two doses.
“Getting vaccinated is the most important thing we can all do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from COVID-19,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Proof of vaccination using the new vaccine certificate with QR code and Verify Ontario app are important tools to help stop the spread of the virus while keeping businesses and organizations open safely.”
Ontario has updated regulations and guidance for businesses to support the implementation of the enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code and the Verify Ontario app.
The updated regulations exempt people who are currently participating in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial that is authorized by Health Canada and specified in Ministry of Health guidance. This will support continued participation in vaccine clinical trials and ensure they can be completed successfully.
Verify Ontario’s code has been released as open source software to allow for greater transparency and to share the code for free with other jurisdictions who may want to adopt it. The code is available on GitHub.
Ontario’s enhanced vaccine certificates will include a QR code are based on the SMART Health Card standard. This standard is also used for QR codes in other provinces, such as Quebec and British Columbia.
Effective October 13, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., proof of vaccination or an eligible exemption, is required to attend a social gathering associated with a wedding service, rite or ceremony or a social gathering associated with a funeral service, rite or ceremony in a meeting or event space.
Since the proof of vaccination policy was announced on September 1, 2021, more than four million individuals have downloaded their vaccination receipt using the COVID-19 vaccination portal.