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Trudeau imposes vaccine mandate on federal employees, domestic travelers

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Canada

Posted at Oct 08 2021 04:13 PM

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In his first Covid-19 briefing since his reelection, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the government's vaccine mandate for all federal employees. Under the plan, federal public servants have until October 29 to get fully vaccinated. If they have not been fully vaccinated or fail to report their vaccination status by the end of October, they will be forced to go on unpaid leave as early as November 15.

Trudeau stressed those who do not want to get vaccinated can try to get a medical or religious exemption but this will not be easy. "If you've done the right thing and gotten vaccinated, you deserve the freedom to be safe from Covid-19, to have your kids safe from Covid, to get back to the things you love," the prime minister pointed out.

The vaccine mandate will affect about 267,000 federal employees in the core public administration, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services and the correctional facilities.

Trudeau also announced that starting October 30, workers and domestic passengers aged 12 and up with travel plans on federally-run planes, trains, or ships will be asked to present proof of vaccination. "The rules are very simple. To travel, you’ve got to be vaccinated."

Trudeau added "if you haven’t gotten your shots yet but want to travel this winter, let’s be clear - there will only be a few extremely narrow exceptions like a valid medical condition." There will be a short grace period until the end of November for unvaccinated travelers to get their shots so they can show their proof of vaccination.

But the largest union of federal employees, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), said they have not been properly consulted about the vaccine mandate. PSAC vowed to continue fighting for their members who will face punishment for being unvaccinated.

For healthcare worker Charito de Guzman of the Hospital Employees' Union, the government is doing the right thing. She asserted "it's for the safety of all Canadians."

Student Trisha Alvarez agrees. "I understand it might be difficult for people who don't want to get vaccinated but I think federal employees should set an example for everyone," Alvarez urged.

Among the provinces, British Columbia will be the first to implement its own vaccine mandate for public service employees by November 22, while workers in its long term care homes, who still have not gotten their shots by October 12, will be forced to go on unpaid leave.