Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is following through on a promise to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all federal public servants, the Star has learned — an announcement set to be made in Ottawa Wednesday.
According to two sources with knowledge of the announcement, Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland are expected to announce details at a morning press conference about the mandatory vaccination policy, a requirement initially announced in August that quickly became a wedge issue on the federal election campaign trail.
Mandatory vaccination is also expected to apply to travellers on planes, trains and cruise ships within Canada, according to one source.
The mandate is expected to apply not only to full-time staff but to casual employees and students, according to one source, who said it’s also expected to involve an attestation of vaccination — a requirement that an employee declare they’ve been vaccinated, rather than having to show proof.
Trudeau and Freeland are scheduled to speak about COVID-19 at an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday.
Two days before calling an election in August, Trudeau announced his government’s intention to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory in all federal workplaces.
“Vaccinations are our best line of defence and for those few who are unable to be vaccinated, accommodation or alternative measures, such as testing and screening, may be determined in each situation,” reads an August 13 press released by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
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It’s not yet clear what exactly will happen for federal employees who cannot attest to being fully vaccinated and can’t provide a reason for an exception. During the election campaign, Trudau said employees would need to be vaccinated or “face consequences.”
Trudeau is also expected to release details about vaccination requirements for travel. He said last week that people 12 and older should be vaccinated if they are planning a trip.
“You will not be able to travel on a plane or a train in Canada if you are not fully vaccinated,” he said.
Just days into the election, mandatory vaccinations became a hotly contested issue, with Conservative leader Erin O’Toole coming out against Trudeau’s mandate, saying he supported regular COVID-19 testing instead.
O’Toole, who said that he would “respect personal health decisions,” did not require all of his own party’s candidates to be vaccinated — in contrast to Liberals and NDP candidates. Trudeau regularly criticized O’Toole’s vaccination mandate stance throughout the campaign, calling it threatening to public health.
More recently, Trudeau said mandatory vaccination would be a priority of his re-elected government and that he was working with public sector employees and unions on the policy.
With files from Althia Raj, Heather Scoffield and the Canadian Press
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