The Canadian government announced Friday that commercial airline travelers will soon need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The sweeping mandate, which also includes passengers on cruise ships and interprovincial trains, will go into effect “[a]s soon as possible in the fall and no later than the end of October,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement.
Alghabra added that those working in “the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors” would face the same requirement, while other federal government employees would need to be vaccinated as early as the end of September.
The government also said it “expects” so-called Crown corporations — like the Bank of Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canada Post — to mandate vaccinations for their employees and promised to “work with these employers to ensure this result.”
Canada’s federal government is the country’s largest employer, with more than 1.2 million workers.
“After months and months of deploying these vaccines literally into millions of Canadian arms, we see how effective they are. We also see what other workplaces and other public service agencies around the world have done,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters. “It is very much a continuation of our government’s efforts to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians.”
Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with more than 81 percent of its population aged 12 and up having received at least one dose and 71.5 percent considered fully vaccinated, according to data from CTV News.
However, despite the success of Canada’s vaccine drive, Alghabra said there was room for improvement.
“We need to reach as many Canadians as we possibly can,” the minister said. Cases are starting to creep up again in what Canada’s top health official dubbed a fourth wave this week.
Canada opened its border to fully vaccinated Americans Monday, 17 months after the frontier was shut to non-essential travel in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and planned to reopen to visitors from around the world Sept. 7
By contrast, the Biden administration has said it will keep its side of the US-Canada border closed until at least Aug. 21.
Air Canada, the country’s largest airline, called the vaccine mandate “a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers and all Canadians.”
The Ottawa government’s announcement was made against the backdrop of election politics. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to call a snap election this weekend to be held Sept. 20 in an effort to strengthen his minority Liberal government.
A spokesperson for Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole told CTV News late Friday that while the party encourages every Canadian who is able to get vaccinated to do so they “support Canadians’ right to determine their own health choices.”
With Post wires