Canadian air travellers and federal workers will need to fully vaccinated by the end of October if they wish to fly or continue their employment.
Ottawa revealed the new mandate Friday, which also requires federally regulated industries to abide by the new rules — not just those directly employed by government. That would include everything from banking to telecommunications workers.
The mandate applies to cruise-ship passengers, airline crews, train passengers and train staff as well. Crown corporations are expected to follow suit.
“We think the federal government has to lead by example,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister LeBlanc said during a media briefing.
“We see this, frankly, as a very important step, particularly with the Delta variant, for example being more transmissible.”
The move comes one day after B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order requiring all long-term care and assisted-living workers to be fully vaccinated by October 12.
She said it was “perfectly valid” for private businesses to reach out to their legal teams to determine if they should require all employees get vaccinated as well.
LeBlanc called the federal government’s approach “prudent” and “effective”
“Canadians don’t want to go back to lockdowns,” Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra said.
“We want to protect against all the gains we have made.”
He added he would like to see this fully implemented before the end-of-October deadline.
“We now need to get to work, define the proper regulatory framework and the proper regime for this,” Alghabra said.
Enhanced testing and screening will be made available to those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, he said.
"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," Alghabra said.
To date, 82% of Canada’s eligible population — those 12 and older — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 72% are fully vaccinated.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, the largest union serving federal employees, said in a statement it supports the measures but said it was critical that the privacy of workers is respected as vaccination statuses are recorded and collected.
"The government must also provide accommodations for workers who cannot be vaccinated for reasons protected under human rights legislation," union president Chris Aylward said.
"We expect the government to continue consulting with unions on the implementation of their vaccination requirements to safeguard our members’ right to privacy and ensure that their human rights are respected."