Federal public servants, RCMP and air and rail travellers must be vaccinated by month’s end, Trudeau says
Federal contractors, like cleaning staff, must also be double-dosed to gain access to a government building. The estimated 267,000 employees covered by this policy must report their vaccination status by Oct. 29.
If, two weeks after that date, employees still haven’t had their shots or received some sort of accommodation under the Canadian Human Rights Act, then they will face “disciplinary action that could ultimately cost them their job,” a senior government official said at a technical briefing with reporters ahead of Trudeau’s announcement.
Unvaccinated employees will be barred from going to work, either in person or remotely, and they will be put on administrative leave and denied pay. A senior official said these employees will not qualify for employment insurance (EI) benefits.
The employees who fall under this mandate will not have to produce their proof of vaccination documents — rather, this mandate will essentially rely on the honour system in that employees will have to sign an attestation form certifying that they’ve had the necessary shots.
“Lying would mean disciplinary measures would be taken. It’s consequential for an employee to lie,” a senior government official said.
Federally regulated industries
Starting on Oct. 30, all employers in federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors will be required to implement mandatory vaccination policies for their organizations. After a short phase-in period, these companies will be required to guarantee their employees are fully vaccinated or else those workers will be forced off the job.
All airline and airport staff, including people who work at restaurants or retail stores in the post-security area, must be fully vaccinated. All employees of federally regulated railways, including rail crew and track employees, must have their shots. Marine operators with Canadian vessels must also ensure their workers are vaccinated.
Other Crown corporations, including Canada Post and CBC/Radio Canada, and government entities like the House of Commons and the Senate will be “asked to mirror the same policy but will have to do it under their own governance and authority framework,” an official said.
As of Oct. 30, all travellers ages 12 and older on flights leaving Canadian airports and people travelling on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains must be fully vaccinated in order to board. Marine passengers on non-essential passenger vessels like cruise ships must also complete the vaccination series before travelling.
It will be up to air, rail and marine operators to “establish processes to verify vaccine status,” a government official said, adding they expect these companies to accept provincial vaccine passports as proof of status. A “pan-Canadian, secure, and standardized proof of vaccination for international travel” program is still in the works, but the details have not yet been announced.
“Our message to unvaccinated travellers is clear: if you’re planning to travel, you need to book your vaccination appointment now,” a government official said.
Measures aimed at vaccine holdouts
To qualify as a “fully vaccinated traveller,” a person must have received a full series of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine — a combination of approved shots is also acceptable — with the last dose having been administered at least 14 days prior to the day of travel. There will be a “short transition phase,” a government official said, that will allow travellers to show a negative COVID-19 molecular test result instead of proof of vaccination up until Nov. 30.
The plan comes as public health authorities urge vaccine holdouts to get a shot to curb a deadly resurgence of the virus in some provinces. The millions of Canadians who have so far avoided getting a shot have driven a fourth wave of the pandemic with the much more contagious delta strain of the virus in circulation.
While 88 per cent of the eligible Canadian population has had at least one shot, Trudeau said more people need to roll up their sleeves at a time when vaccine supply is plentiful and case counts are on the rise.
Based on a CBC News estimate, there are still more than four million people over the age of 12 who have chosen to forego a shot altogether, or to wait for a later date.
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