Suspension of the vaccine mandates for domestic travellers, transportation workers and federal employees

OTTAWA, ON, June 14, 2022 /CNW/ – Following a successful vaccination campaign, 32 million (or nearly 90%) of eligible Canadians have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and case counts have decreased. Canadians have stepped up to protect themselves and the people around them, and rates of hospitalization and deaths are also decreasing across the country, and Canada has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the world.

Vaccination continues to be one of the most effective tools to protect Canadians, including younger Canadians, our health care system and our economy. Everyone in Canada needs to keep up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses to get ready for the fall. The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces and territories to help even more Canadians get the shots for which they are eligible.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government of Canada’s response has been informed by expert advice and sound science and research. As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, so too have public health measures and advice, which includes vaccination requirements that were always meant to be a temporary measure. 

As such, the government announced today that, as of June 20, it will suspend vaccination requirements for domestic and outbound travel, federally regulated transportation sectors and federal government employees.

While the suspension of vaccine mandates reflects an improved public health situation in Canada, the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve and circulate in Canada and globally. Given this context, and because vaccination rates and virus control in other countries varies significantly, current vaccination requirements at the border will remain in effect. This will reduce the potential impact of international travel on our health care system and serve as added protection against any future variant. Other public health measures, such as wearing a mask, continue to apply and will be enforced throughout a traveller’s journey on a plane or train.

Travellers and transportation workers
  • As of 00:01 EDT on June 20, 2022, the vaccination requirement to board a plane or a train in Canada will be suspended.
  • In addition, federally regulated transport sector employers will no longer be required to have mandatory vaccination policies in place for employees.
  • Due to the unique nature of cruise ship travel, vaccination requirements for passengers and crew of cruise ships will continue to remain in effect.
  • Masking and other public health protection measures will continue to be in place and enforced on planes, trains, and ships.
  • Current border measures, including the existing vaccination requirement for most foreign nationals to enter Canada, and quarantine and testing requirements for Canadians who have not received their primary vaccine series, remain in effect.
Federal public service
  • Also on June 20, the Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the Core Public Administration (CPA) Including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be suspended.
  • Employees of the CPA will be strongly encouraged to remain up to date with their vaccinations; however, they will no longer be required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment.
  • As such, employees who are on administrative leave without pay for noncompliance with the Policy in force until now will be contacted by their managers to arrange their return to regular work duties.

Crown corporations and separate agencies will also be asked to suspend vaccine requirements, and the vaccination requirement for supplier personnel accessing federal government workplaces will also be suspended. With the suspension of vaccination requirements, employees placed on unpaid leave may return to work. The government and other employers will ensure that  these employees can resume their duties as seamlessly as possible.

Furthermore, the Government of Canada is no longer moving forward with proposed regulations under Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code to make vaccination mandatory in all federally regulated workplaces.

The Government of Canada will not hesitate to make adjustments based on the latest public health advice and science to keep Canadians safe. This could include an up-to-date vaccination mandate at the border, the reimposition of public service and transport vaccination mandates, and the introduction of vaccination mandates in federally regulated workplaces in the fall, if needed.

Quotes

“Throughout this pandemic, our government’s approach has been rooted in close collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners. We all have a role to play in keeping Canadians safe. Our government will continue to make decisions based on the best public health advice and adjust its measures accordingly.”

     –     The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

“The mandatory vaccination requirement successfully mitigated the full impact of COVID-19 for travellers and workers in the transportation sector and provided broader protection to our communities. Suspending this requirement is possible thanks to the tens of millions of Canadians who did the right thing: they stepped up, rolled up their sleeves, and got vaccinated. This action will support Canada’s transportation system as we recover from the pandemic.”

     –     The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport of Canada 

“As the country’s largest employer, the Government has led by example to help protect the health and safety of the federal workforce, as well as those in the federally regulated travel sector. We are now in a much better place across Canada, and vaccination mandates helped us to get there. As we move forward, we will continue to take action to keep public servants safe, and all employees are strongly encouraged to keep their vaccinations current so they get all recommended doses.”

     –     The Honourable Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board

“While the suspension of vaccine mandates reflects an improved public health situation in Canada, the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve and circulate in Canada and globally. The science is also perfectly clear on one thing: vaccination remains the single most effective way to protect ourselves, our families, our communities, and our economy against COVID-19. We don’t know what we may or may not face come autumn, but we know that we must remain prudent, which is why our government continues to strongly encourage everyone in Canada to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes recommended booster doses.” 

     –     The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health

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Backgrounder: Government of Canada suspends mandatory vaccination for federal employees

The Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the Core Public Administration (CPA) Including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be suspended as of June 20, 2022. Federal employees of the CPA will no longer be required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. This follows a review of the current public health situation, notably the evolution of the virus and vaccination rates in Canada.

The policy on COVID-19 vaccination came into effect on October 6, 2021, at a time when vaccination provided an effective occupational health and safety measure by limiting the spread of COVID-19. Today, vaccines continue to provide strong protection against serious illness, and provide a level of protection against infection and transmission of COVID-19 that decreases over time. Layered public health measures in the workplace, such as staying home when sick, improving ventilation, wearing a mask and practising hand hygiene continue to provide effective barriers against the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, and these requirements remain in effect.

As of June 20, 2022:

  • Federal public servants who were subject to administrative leave without pay (LWOP), as a result of the vaccination policy, may resume regular work duties with pay.
  • Accommodation measures that were put in place as a result of the vaccination policy, will end.
  • Consideration of outstanding accommodation requests will end.
  • Verification and audits currently underway will continue.

The pandemic is not over yet and there is still the possibility of future resurgence of cases or a new variant of concern. The government will continue to closely monitor domestic and international scientific evidence to assess the need for additional public health measures, including the possible reintroduction of vaccination mandates. 

Reported attestations

Reported attestations in the Core Public Administration, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as of May 30, 2022:

  • 98.5% (279,124) are fully vaccinated as defined in the policy
  • 0.3% (740) are partially vaccinated
  • 0.3% (773) are unvaccinated

The review and validation of employee attestations will continue and is being managed internally by each federal organization.

Federal employees on administrative leave without pay

As of May 30, 2022, 2,108 federal employees, or less than 2%, were on administrative leave without pay, as a result of declining to disclose their vaccination status or because they were unwilling to be vaccinated with two doses. These employees can now resume regular work duties with pay.

Requests for accommodation

As of May 30, 2022, there were a total of 2,598 requests for accommodations in relation to the policy.

The breakdown of requests was as follows:

  • For medical reasons: 654
  • For religious reasons: 1,659
  • For other reasons: 285

“Other” refers to requests for accommodation based on other prohibited grounds of discrimination as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act

As of May 30, 2022, 993 requests for accommodation had been deemed eligible and 699 remained under consideration. 

The breakdown of accommodations deemed eligible was as follows:

  • For medical reasons: 310
  • For religious reasons: 642
  • For other reasons: 41

With the suspension of the policy on vaccination, accommodation measures that were put in place as a result of the vaccination policy, as well as any reviews of remaining accommodation requests, will end.

Vaccination requirements for contractors, Governor in Council appointees and Crown corporations and separate agencies

When mandatory vaccination for employees of the CPA was announced last fall, Crown corporations and separate agencies followed suit by implementing their own vaccination requirements. They are now being asked to suspend their vaccination requirements. Similarly, the vaccination requirement for supplier personnel accessing federal government workplaces will also be suspended, as will vaccination requirements for Governor in Council appointees.

Importance of COVID-19 vaccination

Ensuring the availability of safe and effective vaccines has allowed over 32 million Canadians to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to better protect themselves and the people around them.

Vaccination continues to be one of the most effective ways to protect against COVID-19, in particular to prevent severe outcomes. The Government of Canada has taken a multi-pronged approach to support COVID-19 vaccination in Canada and continues to strongly support everyone in Canada who is eligible to be up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses. Together with vaccination, individual public health measures continue to be important to help protect one’s health and the health of others, especially people at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.

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SOURCE Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

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