Government agencies shirk responsibility instead of helping Quebecers sort out COVID-19 vaccine passports problems
Update: After publication of this story, the Quebec Health Ministry clarified it was mistaken and the Director of Civil Status cannot facilitate a name correction.
"If you are in this situation [and plan to travel], the air carrier may accept proof of vaccination that does not perfectly match the traveller's identification documents," the Health Ministry theorizes. "As long as you are able to prove that your proof of immunization is yours by other means, such as presenting your health insurance card or a letter from the chief of your Indigenous community."
The ministry adds "no issues have been reported to us by citizens at customs."
Original story below:
It seems the Quebec government does not know how to help married women or immigrants who have multiple legal names when it comes to making sure their COVID-19 vaccination documents match the rest of their official papers.
Since the rollout of the province's vaccine passport, numerous Quebecers have noticed that if they have a maiden and married name, or a birth and western name, their official documents get muddled.
It's something that hasn't proven to be much of a problem -- until now.
Since first publishing a story on the subject in August, CTV News has received dozens of messages from people stuck in this somewhat odd predicament.
"My wife and I have spent hours on the phone with several government departments, but have not been able to resolve this problem," said Jay Goldman. "We started with the phone number in your article but there is no, or no longer, anyone who will help. Nor is there anyone who feels that this is their problem."
Over the summer, multiple people told CTV News that they were able to either contact the COVID-19 information hotline or visit a vaccination clinic in person to make the quick name change to their vaccine passport -- usually simply adding on their married or western name.
That method of correcting one's official documents to make sure everything matches has since been closed, with the Quebec government saying it never should have been open in the first place.
"Of course, if the provincial government doesn't recognize this as a real problem they are not going to make an effort to resolve it," Goldman said. "Considering that the Quebec government has both the married and maiden names on file, it doesn't seem to me that this should be hard to correct: just add the married name to the proof of vaccination."
NOT ME, NOT ME
However, despite being continually pressed on the issue by CTV News, not a single government agency could produce a solution or offer any help, simply saying it wasn't their job.
"We can confirm that our CIUSSS cannot change the identification on a vaccine passport," said Carl Thériault, a spokesperson with the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. "Unfortunately, we have no other information on this matter. We are very sorry to learn that some individuals are in this predicament."
The CIUSSS had initially referred people to contact the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).
However, the department has since told CTV News that it "does not manage the vaccine passport, nor did it design it."
"If you have any questions regarding the matching of names on the vaccine passport, you should contact the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux [Health Ministry]," said Annie Boulanger, communications advisor with RAMQ.
When asked about the issue, the Quebec Health Ministry said it was "aware of the inconvenience caused by this situation."
"A limited number of people are in this situation in Quebec," insisted Robert Maranda, a spokesperson with the department.
He goes on to emphasize that a person's name on their health insurance card and proof of vaccination must match.
"No exceptions are allowed, nor is it possible to make changes at the vaccination centres," he said. "It is the responsibility of individuals to ensure that their official documents match each other."
His only solution: request corrections from the Director of Civil Status.
One week after CTV News requested information, the Director of Civil Status notes it is still looking into whether it is its responsibility to help people make sure their documents match.
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