Government of Canada Mandates COVID-19 Vaccination for Federally Regulated Transportation Employees and Travellers

On October 6, 2021, the Government of Canada announced that as of October 30, 2021, it will:

  1. require employers in the federally regulated transportation sector to establish mandatory vaccination policies for their employees; and
  2. require travellers departing from Canadian airports, travellers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains and travellers on non-essential passenger vessels on voyages of 24 hours or more, such as cruise ships, to be vaccinated.

Here is what you need to know:

1. COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Employees in the Federally Regulated Transportation Sector

By October 30, 2021, the Government of Canada will require employers in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors to establish vaccination policies that:

  • include a provision for employee attestation/declaration of their vaccination status;
  • include a description of consequences for employees who do not comply or who falsify information; and
  • meet standards consistent with the approach taken by the Government of Canada for the Core Public Administration.[1]

According to the announcement, after a short phase-in period, employees will be required to be fully vaccinated.[2] If employees are not fully vaccinated, they will be unable to work.

This requirement will apply to:

  • airlines and airports, and other organizations who have employees who enter restricted areas of airports, such as concession and hospitality workers;
  • federally regulated railways, and their rail crew and track employees; and
  • marine operators with Canadian vessels that operate with 12 or more crew.

2. COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Travellers

Effective October 30, 2021, travellers departing from Canadian airports, travellers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains and travellers on non-essential passenger vessels on voyages of 24 hours or more, such as cruise ships, will need to be vaccinated in order to board.

This vaccination requirement will apply to travellers 12 years of age and older who are:

  • air passengers flying on domestic, transborder or international flights departing from airports in Canada;
  • rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains; or
  • marine passengers on non-essential passenger vessels, such as cruise ships, on voyages of 24 hours or more.

There will be a short transition period for travellers who are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated. During the transition period, travellers in the process of becoming fully vaccinated will be able to travel if they can show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel. This transition period will end on November 30, 2021, after which all travellers must be fully vaccinated, with very limited exceptions (i.e. emergency travel and those medically unable to be vaccinated).

According to the Government of Canada, its mandate will recognize the unique needs of travellers from small, remote communities to ensure they will be able to travel to obtain essential services in support of their medical, health, or social well-being and to return safely to their homes.

3. Enforcement

Transport Canada will oversee compliance, which will include inspections and enforcement tools, including administrative monetary penalties.

If you have any questions regarding the impact of this announcement on your business or if you are considering implementing a vaccination policy in your workplace, please contact any member of our National Labour and Employment Group. We have significant expertise in this area and would be pleased to assist.

 

[1]Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the Core Public Administration Including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police”, Government of Canada (October 6, 2021), online.

[2]COVID-19 vaccination requirement for federal public servants”, Government of Canada (October 6, 2021), online, “fully vaccinated" means you have received a complete series of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

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