Federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate: Here’s what we know, what we don’t

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Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required by the end of October for all employees in Canada’s federally regulated workplaces. And, by mid-November, measures that are in place will ensure that the requirement is implemented.

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The official announcement came on Wednesday from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and included mandatory vaccination for travel within Canada. Since promising to do so in August, Treasury Board officials have been working out the specifics of the plan with unions, including discussing the consequences for workers refusing vaccinations.

Here’s a look at what we know about the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate so far.


Starting October 30, the new policy requires vaccinations for anyone age 12 or older who wants to board an airplane or train in Canada, with narrow medical exceptions.

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This is not exclusive to federal employees – it includes all passengers flying on domestic, cross-border or international flights departing from airports in Canada, and rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains. Seafarers on non-essential passenger vessels, such as cruise ships or voyages lasting 24 hours or more, should also be vaccinated.

“Testing before boarding will no longer be an option,” Trudeau clarified at a news conference.

“For the vast, vast majority of people, the rules are very simple,” he continued. “To travel, you have to get vaccinated.”

“These travel measures, along with mandatory vaccinations for federal employees, are some of the strongest in the world. Because when it comes to keeping you and your family safe, when it comes to avoiding lockdowns for everyone, This is not the time for half measures,” he said.

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This means that anyone wishing to board a plane or train must receive a second jab of a Health Canada-approved vaccine at least 14 days before their travel.

Currently, Health Canada has four approved vaccines against COVID-19: AstraZeneca Waxjeveria, Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnati, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) and Modern Spikewax.

For travelers who are in the process of being vaccinated, there will be a short window within which they can travel provided they offer a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel.

However, by November 30, that window will also close and all passengers will be required to have a full vaccination before boarding. Limited exceptions will be available to address specific situations such as emergency travel and will be expanded to those who are medically unable to be vaccinated.

For those in core public service – including air travel and rail workers – full immunization against COVID-19 is mandatory by October 29. They must certify that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, failing which, they will be placed on unpaid administration. Leave.

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“Verification is the first step for a public service, with dire consequences for anyone who misrepresents themselves,” Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday.

“And, we’re putting in place important processes to make sure those verifications are actually genuine.”

However, at the moment it is not clear how the government will decide whose attestation is right or wrong.

The new mandate affects more than 267,000 core public-service and RCMP workers and includes those who work from home and outside Canada. They will have to verify their COVID-19 vaccine status online, which will be tracked and audited by the departments. The manager of the concerned department can ask for proof of vaccination at any time.

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From November 15, disciplinary action, including dismissal, will be considered against employees providing false verification. However, those who have taken only one dose will be given 10 weeks to receive their second job before being placed on unpaid administrative leave.

They will not be allowed to return to work until they have been fully vaccinated or the policy is no longer in effect.

Those who misrepresent information or otherwise fail to comply with the new federal vaccine policy could face fines. Transport Canada will monitor compliance through inspection and enforcement tools.

Railway companies may face fines of up to $250,000 per day, under Railway Safety Act.

In airspace, passengers or employees may be fined up to $5,000 per violation aeronautical act, while operators can seek up to $25,000 in fines per violation.

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In the maritime sector, non-compliant employees and passengers can face fines of up to $250,000 per day for violations. For operators, fines can go up to $250,000 per day per violation, pursuant to an interim order in Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

The government is working with airport businesses, employers of airline and rail companies to develop their mandatory vaccine policies by the end of the month.

There will be “very limited exceptions” to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for travelers to address the “realities of remote, fly-in communities”; emergency travel; and exceptional medical reasons,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

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