Jesse Feith

January 24, 2022

-Montreal Gazette


As of Monday, big-box stores in Quebec require customers to show a vaccine passport, as the provincial government’s latest COVID-19 measure comes into effect.

In an attempt to convince holdouts to get vaccinated, the government has extended the vaccine passport to all all stores with surface areas of 1,500 square metres or more, with the exception of groceries and pharmacies.

For clients shopping in Montreal’s LaSalle neighbourhood Monday morning, the measure was a welcome addition.

“I think it’s a very good idea,” said Robert Gaudry, 74, on his way out of a Walmart Superstore.

“There are still a lot of people who aren’t vaccinated — and now we’re hearing about these fake vaccine passports — so I think it’s OK they ask for it at more places,” Gaudry said.

“The ultimate goal is to get people to understand they need to get vaccinated,” he added. “For me, it also helps you feel a bit safer (when shopping).”

Robert Larocque, 79, said he wasn’t sure the measure will convince some to get vaccinated if they haven’t yet. But he doesn’t mind the government trying new ways of convincing people.

“Maybe if everyone got vaccinated,” Larocque said, “it could solve the problem once and for all.”

Geraldine Lalonde, for her part, said she knows the measure is already making a difference. After hearing the passport is now required at stores like Walmart and Costco, her niece recently got her first dose.

“She didn’t want to, but now she did,” said Lalonde, 79, after buying a box of masks at Canadian Tire. “So I think that shows it’s working.”

Though clients seemed on board Monday morning, the measure has not been without opposition.

Last week, Jean-Guy Côté, the general manager of the Quebec Retail Council, which represents 5,000 stores, told the Montreal Gazette the province’s retail sector is short 28,000 employees, which will make it harder to dedicate staff to checking vaccine passports.

Côté also voiced concerns over how unvaccinated clients would react to the measure.

“We’re very concerned … (about) what the reaction will be from the unvaccinated when they try to enter our stores,” he said. “So we hope Monday we won’t be thrown into some difficult situations.”

The Association québécoise de la quincaillerie et des matériaux de construction, which represents hardware stores in Quebec, also questioned what good extending the vaccine passport to their stores will do.

“We were told that an 80-per-cent vaccination rate would be sufficient. We are now at 92 per cent,” the association wrote in an open letter, adding that hoping to achieve a rate of 100 per cent is a “pipe dream” not worth focusing on.

“We are no longer in March 2020,” the letter said. “We must learn to live again, to manage our companies and our individual behaviours differently.”