2021-10-07 03:00:47 Trudeau Sets Timeline for Broad Vaccine Mandates in Canada

Trudeau Sets Timeline for Broad Vaccine Mandates in Canada

Canada will make vaccination mandatory for air and rail passengers at the end of October, and for federal government workers, including members of the military and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, on October 29, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday.”We’ve covered a lot of ground against Covid-19,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa. “However, our fight is far from over.”

Public employees who are still unvaccinated and do not have a verified medical exemption will be placed on unpaid leave beginning Nov. 15, he said. The federal government estimates that more than 80% of its 300,450 civilian workers — or more than 240,000 people — have already received full vaccinations. The military has approximately 95,000 regular and reserve personnel, while the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has approximately 19,000 officers.

“It’s very simple,” Mr. Trudeau said of the possibility that a large number of government employees will miss the deadline on Nov. 15. “If you want to continue working in the Canadian public service, you must be fully vaccinated.”

Employees of Canada’s provincial and local governments are exempt from the requirement.

Canada is one of the most heavily vaccinated countries in the world; nearly 81 percent of people aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated, and nearly 87 percent are at least partially vaccinated. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are available to all children starting at the age of 12, and those aged 18 and up are also eligible for AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Despite this, the country is experiencing a fourth wave of the virus, with hotspots in several western provinces, including Alberta, where all coronavirus restrictions were lifted in June, Saskatchewan, and the sparsely populated Northwest Territories.

Mr. Trudeau, a Liberal, first announced the vaccination mandate in August, with little detail. Most polls show that mandatory vaccination is popular among Canadians.

However, the prime minister’s call for a snap election shortly afterwards — in the vain hope that high approval ratings for his pandemic performance would give him the majority of votes in the House of Commons he was denied in 2019 — prevented the mandate from being implemented. During the election campaign, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole opposed mandatory vaccination even for his party’s candidates.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau confirmed that the vaccine mandate for travel would apply to members of Parliament. The House of Commons’ vaccination rules must be set by Parliament, not the government, but Mr. Trudeau has mandated that his Liberal colleagues be vaccinated.

Some labor unions have challenged mandatory vaccination laws enacted by other levels of government. However, previous court decisions on other pandemic measures suggest that such rules will be difficult to overturn.

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Trudeau Sets Timeline for Broad Vaccine Mandates in Canada