Canada will require all airline passengers and employees, as well as other transportation workers, and rail and ship passengers to be fully vaccinated by the end of October at the latest. Justin Trudeau’s government also announced plans to mandate vaccination for all federal employees by September – the federal government is the largest employer in Canada.
Announcing the mandate on Friday, the minister of transport Omar Alghabra said Canada was “leading by example” and that mandatory vaccination was “the right thing to do and will ensure Canada continues to build back better from the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
Both Air Canada and Westjet welcomed the decision, although Canada’s largest airline said it hoped mandatory vaccination would mean the end of expensive and “excessive” pre-departure and post-arrival COVID-19 testing.
“Although Air Canada awaits further details about today’s announcement on mandatory vaccinations, it is a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers and all Canadians,” a spokesperson for the Montreal-based airline said.
WestJet said it was a strong advocate for COVID-19 vaccination but the airline acknowledged that some employees will have “questions” about the mandate.
“We are seeking additional detail from the federal government on the requirement and are committed to working together to ensure the successful implementation of the policy by late October,” commented vice president for people and culture, Mark Porter.
The Canadian government said it would engage with key stakeholders including employees workgroups and employers before implementing the mandate. A spokesperson did not say whether there would be exemptions for religious reasons but acknowledged that frequent testing might be an alternative to vaccination.
Despite an initially slow vaccine rollout, Canada has managed to jab 82 per cent of eligible people with at least one shot and 71 per cent are already fully vaccinated. Canada has approved vaccines for all citizens aged 12 and over making it one of the most vaccinated countries in the world.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.