Ottawa – Canada will soon crack down on a COVID-19 mandate, forcing banks, telecommunications companies and all other federally regulated workplaces to ensure their employees are vaccinated, Ottawa said Tuesday.
Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan announced two months after the government announced it would oblige employees working in the public sector and federally regulated air, rail and maritime transportation sectors to get their shots.
“Making vaccination mandatory at all federally regulated workplaces will protect workers, their families, and their communities,” O’Regan said in a statement. The new rules will go into effect in early 2022.
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The ruling liberals initially promised to help most federally regulated areas with vaccinations.
But now they are taking a more strict stance. Data shows that about 15 percent of Canadians over the age of 12 are yet to be fully vaccinated, at a time when the new Omicron version of the coronavirus is starting to spread.
Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal both have soft policies that allow regular testing for workers who missed their October 31 deadline.
O’Regan’s chief spokeswoman, Michelle Johnston, declined to answer directly when asked whether Ottawa was working in the banking and telecommunications sectors due to unhappiness about the number of employees who had been vaccinated.
“I think it’s safe to say that we’re using the tools we have in our tool box … we need to do everything we can,” she said over the phone.
O’Regan said many employers have already made vaccinations mandatory. There are approximately 18,500 employers in federally regulated industries that together employ 955,000 people, about 6 percent of all employees in Canada.
Federal health data shows that as of November 27, 86.4 percent of people 12 years of age and older were fully vaccinated.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Paul Simao and Mark Heinrich)