The government of Canada announced Friday that it will require COVID-19 vaccination as early as September for all federal employees, as well as all commercial air travelers, passengers on trains traveling between provinces, and cruise ship passengers.
“As the country’s largest employer, the Government of Canada is committed to playing a leadership role by further protecting the health and safety of public servants,” the government said in a press release announcing the policy, adding that it hopes to enforce the requirements by the end of October at the latest.
More than 71% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, and 82% have gotten at least their first shot — a higher rate than the U.S., where 59% of eligible people are fully vaccinated. However, more than 6 million eligible people in Canada are still unvaccinated. Less than 1% of COVID-19 cases in Canada have been among those who have been fully vaccinated, the government said.
The Canadian government said it will consult with “key stakeholders, including bargaining agents and transportation sector operators, as we plan for the implementation of these initiatives.” Details such as when COVID-19 tests may be required have yet to be worked out.
Air Canada responded by calling the vaccine mandate “a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers and all Canadians.”
This comes on the heels of Canada’s move to reopen its border to U.S. travelers as of Monday, August 9, to shop, vacation and visit — though the U.S. has not reciprocated. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who want to enter Canada must be both fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 within three days to cross the border.
The Canadian government says it hopes that the vaccine mandate will drive other employers to make the same decision, and it’s “calling on all organizations beyond the federally regulated sector to put in place their own vaccination strategies” to hep keep their communities safe.