OTTAWA — Last Friday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced that the federal government will soon require all public servants and commercial air, train and cruise-ship passengers to be vaccinated by October 31, 2021.
Starting as soon as next month, the vaccine will be made mandatory for federal employees to help boost stalled vaccination rates. The government also expects employees in other federally regulated sectors, including banking, broadcasting and telecommunication, will also require vaccination for their employees.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says all public servants and some employees in federally regulated sectors must comply with this 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,” says LeBlanc.
In a statement, Air Canada welcomed the government’s new health-and-safety regulations to facilitate safer travel.
“Although Air Canada awaits further details about [the] announcement on mandatory vaccinations, it’s a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers and all Canadians. Air Canada is committed to work with its unions and the government of Canada to implement this new policy in an effective manner with the aim of increasing safety and streamlining the application of science-based health and safety measures in a manner consistent with the Government’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel report of May 5, 2021. In particular, for travellers, the panel recommended: that there should be no pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers; acknowledging that testing at both departure and arrival is excessive for these passengers; and that effective self-administered rapid antigen tests now available can safely replace slower and more expensive PCR testing for pre-departure tests,” reads the statement.
“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,” says Alghabra.
Critics, however, argue that a vaccine mandate is an aggressive approach that could lead to discrimination against the unvaccinated. Details of the new mandate are still being worked out.