Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced today that the federal government will soon require that all public servants be vaccinated — a mandate that he said will also be implemented by Crown corporations and other federally regulated businesses in the coming weeks.
While Canada’s vaccination rate is among the highest in the world — 81 per cent of all eligible Canadians have had at least one dose — Alghabra said the country “must do better.”
“We need to reach as many Canadians as we possibly can,” he said.
The vaccine will be mandatory for federal employees and those working in federally regulated sectors (airlines, banking, broadcasting, railways and telecommunications, among others) in an effort to boost stalled vaccination rates.
There are more than 300,000 federal public servants and hundreds of thousands more people are working in industries that fall under the federal labour code.
Alghabra said the government will work expeditiously with public service unions and employers to get the mandate in place “by the end of October,” if not sooner.
This is not a recommendation. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said that all public servants and employees in federally regulated sectors must comply with the vaccine mandate or risk losing their jobs.
“This is a mandatory requirement to go to work in a federal workplace or work in the government of Canada,” he said.
“Obviously, there will be certain individuals for medical reasons that will not be able to be vaccinated and the appropriate officials will work with them to ensure that the appropriate measures are in place.”
Beyond the mandatory vaccination requirement for federal employees, Alghabra said, a similar mandate will be extended to “certain travellers.”
Starting soon, all commercial air travellers and passengers on interprovincial trains and large marine vessels with overnight accommodations (such as cruise ships) will have to be vaccinated, Alghabra said. He said accommodations will be made for “those few who are unable to be vaccinated,” such as testing and screening.
“Vaccine requirements in the transportation sector will help protect the safety of employees, their families, passengers, their communities and all Canadians. And more broadly, it will hasten Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Asked when these measures would take effect, Alghabra said the government is developing “a measured and practical approach to requiring vaccines in these sectors as quickly as possible.”