Canada Border Agency is establishing an ‘Office of Biometrics and Identity Management’ to develop “digital solutions” after advisory panel recommended creating system to “validate proof of vaccination”

On June 6, 2021, the Canada Border Services Agency posted a Tender Notice contract for ‘Biometrics and Identity Management’ on Public Services and Procurement Canada.

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The contract posting says that the Canada Border Services Agency has “an urgent need to secure the services of a global organization (the “Contractor”) with knowledge of and expertise in biometrics.” in order to assist “with the immediate establishment of an Office of Biometrics and Identity Management”.

The Office of Biometrics and Identity Management would work with the Canada Border Services Agency in “researching, planning for and rapidly developing a strategy and roadmap related to the use of Digital solutions enabled by supporting technologies in biometrics, in response to the COVID 19 situation and other operational priorities.”

The government is seeking a contractor that will bring “knowledge, capabilities, and experience to support CBSA’s urgent need to establish a biometric strategy, biometric foundation and ultimately a Biometrics Authority (Centre of Excellence).”

This contract posting from the Government of Canada comes after the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel released a report suggesting that the government should implement a system to “validate proof of vaccination for arriving travellers as soon as possible.

On June 8, 2021, when discussing the easing of border restrictions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada is “preparing to ease” border restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers. 

Prime Minister Trudeau has not publicly commented on vaccine passports, which many Canadian privacy experts are concerned about, but he recently said this in relation to opening the US border:

“It’s very clear that even though one dose has allowed us to significantly protect Canadians, to remove many of the pressures from our public health systems, it is still an incomplete protection. We need people to get the full two doses of their vaccines and that’s why easing of restrictions will be focused on Canadians who are fully vaccinated.”

However, on June 8, 2021, Manitoba Premier Pallister announced that his province would launch a vaccination card to exempt those fully vaccinated from quarantining.

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