National Vaccine Registry

March 16, 2021

Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, this pandemic has cast a harsh light on many issues related to mounting a coordinated and effective national response in the realities of the federal system. For example, inconsistencies in public health messaging, testing, vaccination rollouts and challenges in getting key data.

One very important data issue is the tracking and sharing of the vaccination status of individuals who may be travelling across or outside of Canada. We do not have a national vaccination database or a national vaccine registry, and this pandemic has made it very clear that we need one. Can you tell us what the federal government is doing to encourage the development and deployment of a robust national vaccination database?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for your question, raising this important issue and acknowledging the complications that are introduced by our federal system and that health is exclusively a provincial jurisdiction.

The challenge in having national data on this is that although some provinces have immunization tracking systems, the systems don’t speak to each other from an IT perspective — regrettably, not an uncommon problem that businesses and governments face as the systems evolve differently over time.

That said, the government has been in discussion with its provincial and territorial counterparts and partners to develop a national tracking system. Bearing in mind, of course, the importance of balancing and accommodating our protected rights to privacy and ensuring that the data is collected, tracked and accurate.

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