October 6, 2021 11:45am
The federal government is making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all federal employees.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland officially announced the requirement on Wednesday morning. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the mandatory vaccination in mid-August but then called a federal election a couple of days later, which put the move on hold.
Freeland said that all core federal public service employees, including the RCMP, correctional services, and border guards, will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 29, 2021. Those that don’t will have to go on unpaid leave, unless they’re medically or religiously exempt. She noted administrative leave will start as early as November 15, 2021.
However, the government will be largely relying on the honour system. Government employees who are covered by the mandate won’t have to produce documentation related to the vaccination status. Instead, they will have to sign an attestation that says they’ve had both doses. Trudeau said anyone who lies on their attestation will “face severe consequences.”
“These responsible and tough actions we are announcing today will protect Canadians, prevent our health care system from being overloaded, allow children to continue to go to school, accelerate our economic recovery, and give businesses, including those in the hardest hit sectors, the confidence that our strong economy is less vulnerable to further COVID-19-related lockdowns,” said Freeland.
Freeland also said that the military will soon be making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for its members and Crown corporation have been directed to make vaccines mandatory at their workplaces.
Freeland noted vaccine mandates work and maybe will give those who are hesitant the push they need to get the shots.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said those 12 and older must be fully vaccinated to travel on planes and trains in Canada by the end of October and testing will no longer be an acceptable alternative by the end of November. Trudeau added that work continues with the provinces to standardize proof of vaccination across the country and with airlines to speed up times at the gate when people travel.
“The work that we’re doing with the air carriers in this country is to integrate the proof of vaccination digital codes into their online booking process. So, when you print out your boarding pass at the airport or in advance, there will be a clearly marked proof of vaccination or check mark so the gate agent doesn’t have to be checking documentation,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said his party MPs need to be fully vaccinated to attend Parliament in person but has not mandated other MPs to be vaccinated. He said it’s up to the other parties to mandate their MPs to get vaccinated if they want them to get on planes to travel to Ottawa.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union representing some federal workers, welcomes increased vaccination but doesn’t agree with the mandatory aspect of it.
“While an employer can’t force employees to get vaccinated, it can encourage vaccination and even make it a condition of work in certain jobs. A blanket policy without the necessary legitimate exceptions, however, will fail,” said a union statement.
PIPSC is calling on the federal government to properly accommodate union members who can’t be vaccinated and wants the government to continue measures to reduce exposure to the virus, such as working from home, staggered schedules, and flexibility for family care.
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