Ontario municipalities have given their official support to a proposal by the public health ministry for “biometric” or digital passports.
The passports, similar to those issued by the European Union, are used to show government and customs officials. And provinces throughout the country, including British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Québec, have decided to partner with the Public Health Agency of Canada to start issuing them. “The goal here is to really make sure everyone is covered,” Margaret Borchard, Ontario’s deputy minister of health, told The Globe and Mail.
But a number of experts have warned that biometric passports are not foolproof. “I think that the potential dangers associated with such passports can include making these passports and allowing them into into play not just for emergency situations, but also during travel and advertising these as a security measure,” J.D. Lee, a professor at Concordia University, told The Globe and Mail.
“Are you just getting them off the shelf in the states, or is this a sophisticated device?” said Dr. Marie-Claude Landry, assistant medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health. “I’m not sure. I think it is open to interpretation what the real purpose of the biometric ID is for.”
But the government believes the passports can be a way to control air travel. “The Ministry of Health wants to maintain maximum control over air travel in Canada,” spokeswoman Erin McGinn told The Globe and Mail. The system is similar to the system used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with airlines paying for the use of these passports, instead of the government.
Critics have also suggested that the passports would subject people to an unfair burden when it comes to health care, “given the short list of health conditions that qualify for exemption,” The Globe and Mail wrote. Health officials from each of the provinces will announce a wider rollout of the biometric passports on Wednesday.
Read the full story at The Globe and Mail.
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