OCASI has asked Ontario to provide a written directive that confirms COVID-19 vaccines will be proivded to everyone in Ontario regardless of immigration status.
Read below for OCASI's letter to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services (responsible for immigration and citizenship).
Hon. Christine Elliott
Minister of Health
College Park 5th Flr, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2J3
Hon. Todd Smith
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
7th Flr, 438 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M5G 2K8
March 18, 2021
Re: Written Confirmation of Access To COVID-19 Vaccines For All - Regardless of Immigration Status
Dear Minister Elliott and Minister Smith,
We write to ask you to provide written confirmation of access to COVID-19 vaccines for all those in Ontario, regardless of immigration or citizenship status.
Ontario has more than an estimated 500,000 residents without full immigration status, including several thousand undocumented workers employed on the frontlines as essential workers. Many do not have a valid resident permit, health card or any health coverage, and lack valid identity documents. In the absence of a written directive from the Minister of Health to local health units, such residents will most likely be excluded from the vaccination drive, putting them at risk and reducing Ontario’s efforts to build herd immunity.
We ask that you provide a written directive from the Ministry of Health to all Ontario local health systems and vaccine distribution sites including pharmacies, that clearly states:
- COVID-19 vaccines will be provided free of charge to everyone in Ontario that wishes to be vaccinated regardless of immigration status
- No immigration documents, health card or any health coverage is required to access the vaccine; and where registration is relevant (such as tracking for two-dosage vaccines) any identity documentation is acceptable including non-Canadian and expired identity documents and alternatives - such as but not limited to - a letter from a community organization. The intent should be to facilitate and encourage access, rather than prevent access to the vaccine.
- The identity of all vaccine recipients will be protected, and no information will be shared with immigration or law enforcement.
We also ask that the directive is provided in clear language in English and French, translated into other languages needed in communities across Ontario, publicly posted at all vaccination sites, the Ministry of Health Website, the Ontario vaccine booking portal and local booking portals, as included in all Ministry of Health communications on vaccine eligibility and access.
OCASI is committed to working with the Ontario government to support public education and access to vaccines.