Trudeau announces mandatory vaccination for federal workforce, federally regulated transportation sectors

PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday announced details of the government’s plans to require COVID-19 vaccination across the federal public service and federally regulated transportation sectors.

Under the new policy, federal public servants in the Core Public Administration, including members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, will be required to confirm their vaccination status by October 29. Those who are unwilling to disclose their vaccination status or to be fully vaccinated will be placed on administrative leave without pay as early as November 15.

Employers in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors will have until October 30 to establish vaccination policies that ensure employees are vaccinated.

Effective October 30, travellers departing from Canadian airports, and travellers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, will be required to be fully vaccinated, with very limited exceptions.

The government is working with industry and key partners to put a strict vaccine requirement in place for cruise ships before the resumption of the 2022 cruise season.

Crown corporations and separate agencies are being asked to implement vaccine policies mirroring the requirements announced today (October 6) for the rest of the public service. The Acting Chief of the Defence Staff will also issue a directive requiring vaccination for the Canadian Armed Forces. The government will keep working with employers in other federally regulated workplaces to ensure vaccination is prioritized for workers in these sectors.

Trudeau said: “Vaccines are the most effective tool against COVID-19, and countless Canadians – including many public servants – have already done their part and gotten their shots. But no one is safe until everyone is safe. We have enough doses in Canada for every person to be fully vaccinated across the country, so I encourage all Canadians who haven’t been vaccinated to book their shot today. Together, we will finish the fight against COVID-19.”

Freeland added: “The best economic policy is a strong public health response, including encouraging vaccination for all eligible Canadians. As the country’s largest employer, the Government of Canada is leading by example. By requiring people who work in the public service to be fully vaccinated, we are putting the health and safety of public servants, their families, and their neighbours, first. This also protects the safety of anyone who enters a federal office to get the services they need. And we’re making sure travellers are safe, which will help hard-hit sectors recover. These responsible and practical actions will accelerate our economic recovery and give businesses valuable confidence that our strong economy is less vulnerable to COVID-19-related lockdowns.”

Quick Facts

  • The Core Public Administration comprises departments and organizations named in Schedules I and IV of the Financial Administration Act. The requirement for employees to be vaccinated applies whether they are teleworking, working remotely, or working on‑site. Contracted personnel who require access to federal government worksites will also need to be vaccinated.
  • Employees unable to be vaccinated due to prohibited grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, may request accommodation.
  • Employees have an obligation to provide a true attestation. Failure to do so would constitute a breach of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
  • The Government of Canada strongly advises any Canadians planning to travel by plane or train in the coming weeks to get vaccinated as soon as possible or they will be unable to travel.
  • There will be a short transition period during which travellers not yet fully vaccinated will be able to travel if they can show a negative COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel. This transition period will end on November 30.
  • There will be very limited exceptions to the vaccination requirement for travellers to address the realities of remote, fly-in communities; emergency travel; and exceptional medical reasons.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to engaging with Indigenous groups, provinces, and territories to ensure that unvaccinated Canadians living in remote communities will still be able to obtain essential services in support of their medical, health, or social well-being, and return safely to their communities.
  • There will be consequences for travellers caught falsifying documentation, as well as for transportation operators who don’t comply.
  • These plans were informed by engagement with key stakeholders, including bargaining agents, other employers, operators, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.