Canada is not implementing a social credit scheme

20 October 2021
What was claimed

The Canadian government is introducing a social credit scheme.

Our verdict

This is not happening. It is a misinterpretation of advice given to Canadian businesses that operate in China where a social credit scheme exists.

A Facebook post shared almost 700 times suggests that “in a few weeks” Ontario in Canada will implement a social credit scheme based around QR codes. 

The post claims that “a QR code social credit scheme” will give the government the power to turn off your access to money. It warns that people could incur penalties for actions such as “if you're diabetic and buy too much cake” or if you have “a history of drinking and buy too much booze”.

However, no such scheme has been announced for Canadian residents.

A social credit scheme or system works as a sort of identity scheme, similar in manner to a credit score, whereby actions of citizens, businesses and government monitoring are marked against a personal record. 

In 2014 China began planning its own social credit system to be implemented by 2020 (several reports state the 2020 deadline was missed). It has been reported that a good rating could see rewards like priority healthcare, but a bad rating could lead to sanctions such as restrictions on loans, travel and education.

The exact scoring system planned for use in China is not known, but there are no publicly available reports that banks there will turn off access to money or that penalties will be incurred for eating cake if you’re diabetic, as the Facebook post describes.

The idea that the same system would be implemented in Canada seems to have originated from a page on the Canadian trade commissioner service site, first posted in April 2020. The page provided regulatory and compliance advice on the social credit scheme for Canadian businesses with Chinese operations. It does not mention anything about use of a similar system in Canada.

Lama Khodr, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, told AFP Fact Check: “The information in the referenced webpage is intended to raise awareness amongst Canadian companies about a specific Chinese government regulatory program—Corporate Social Credit System that only applies to companies doing business in China—so that Canadian companies can consider compliance or risk-mitigation measures.”

The Facebook post’s mention of QR codes may relate to the fact that Ontario has mandated the use of a coronavirus vaccination certification scheme using QR codes. 

The scheme will require residents to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 to enter indoor public venues such as restaurants, theatres and gyms.

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