Canada makes vaccines mandatory for government officials, air and rail workers, travelers
OTTAWA – The core public service, airline and rail workers and travelers must all be fully immunized against COVID-19 by the end of October, according to Canada’s new mandatory vaccination policy.
OTTAWA – The core public service, airline and railroad workers, and travelers must all be fully immunized against COVID-19 by the end of October, according to Canada’s new mandatory vaccination policy.
The federal government announced Wednesday that officials must certify that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 29, or be placed on unpaid administrative leave.
The new policy will affect more than 267,000 core public service and RCMP employees, and will even apply to those working at home and abroad.
“This is… the government taking action on behalf of this majority that spoke in the election, to ensure that a minority of people cannot sabotage Canada’s economic recovery and cannot allow in the fourth wave or other variants of causing us real problems, ”Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Wednesday at a press briefing.
But the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents more than 160,000 federal workers, said the government had failed to properly consult with bargaining agents or incorporate union comments.
“We are seeing this rushed, without meaningful consultation,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President.
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The union is questioning how the government plans to protect workers’ private medical information and how it will prevent unvaccinated contract workers and visitors from entering federal workspaces, he said. he declares.
“And of course the human rights, the human rights of members must be protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act, including the duty to accommodate,” said Aylward.
Workers will have to provide a certificate of their vaccination status online. The certificates will be monitored and audited by the services, and those in charge may request proof of vaccination at any time.
Employees who provide false certifications will be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal.
People who have only received one dose will have 10 weeks to receive the next before being placed on unpaid leave.
They will not be allowed to return to work until they are vaccinated or the policy is no longer in effect.
Employees placed on unpaid leave will generally not be eligible for EI benefits, officials said.
Aylward said options should be explored to accommodate unvaccinated workers.
“What if this work could be done remotely? What about the reassignment of tasks? None of that has been explored,” he said.
But the government has opted for a straightforward approach.
“It’s very simple. If you want to continue working for the Public Service of Canada, you will need to be fully immunized,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.
About 82 percent of eligible Canadians received a double dose of vaccines approved by Health Canada.
The PSAC does not have a record of how many of its members are vaccinated, but expects the vast majority to have been vaccinated.
Accommodation will be made for people who cannot receive a vaccine for reasons protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act, which includes religious and health reasons for not having a complete list of vaccines.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said exemptions will be difficult and expensive to obtain, and simply having the personal belief that vaccines are “bad” will not be enough.
Stéphane Aubry, vice-president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), said his union is concerned about how these accommodations will play out.
While his union has no plans to challenge the new policy, he may have to file grievances on a case-by-case basis, he said.
“It’s a concern for us because it’s a pressure on the employees, and we will defend our members as much as we can,” Aubry said in an interview on Wednesday.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers wrote to members that it would represent them throughout the grievance process if they choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but warned the process could take two or three years and there is no legal precedent that could predict the outcome.
Other federally regulated workplaces, such as crown corporations and government agencies, will be asked to reflect the public service’s mandatory vaccination policy for their employees.
Acting Chief of Staff General Wayne Eyre will also issue a directive requiring vaccination of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, the government is working with employers at airport companies, airlines and railways to develop their own policies for mandatory vaccines by the end of the month.
Anyone over 12 who plans to board a plane at a Canadian airport or a Via Rail or Rocky Mountaineer train must have received a second dose of a Health Canada approved vaccine at least 14 days before their trip. .
For travelers, there will be a short transition period to allow the unvaccinated to show a negative COVID-19 molecular test instead, although the grace period only lasts until November 30.
Cruise lines will also be urged to implement mandatory vaccines for employees and travelers in time for the 2022 season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 6, 2021.
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press