The Canadian government has announced that it will require employees in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors to be vaccinated. The vaccination requirement will also extend to certain travelers, including all commercial air travelers, passengers on interprovincial trains, and passengers on large marine vessels with overnight accommodations, such as cruise ships. As to when this may enter force, the government has said that it will be “as soon as possible in the fall and no later than the end of October”.
The government will now engage with key stakeholders, including bargaining agents and transportation sector operators, as it plans for the implementation of these initiatives. The process will include determining how this requirement will be implemented, through confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination and other means of protection, such as testing when necessary.
Canada has also announced its intent to require vaccination as early as the end of September across the federal public service. “Vaccinations are our best line of defense 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, to protect broader public health by reducing the risk of COVID-19..” the government said in a statement issued on August 13. “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 and the communities where they live and work across Canada and around the world.
“Further, the Government of Canada expects that Crown corporations and other employers in the federally regulated sector will also require vaccination for their employees. The government will work with these employers to ensure this result.”
The government is also calling on all organizations beyond the federally regulated sector to put in place their own vaccination strategies, drawing on the advice and guidance available from public health authorities and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
The announcement recognizes the dynamic public health situation in Canada. Since the start of the vaccination campaign in mid-December, less than 1% of COVID-19 cases have been among those who were fully protected by the vaccine. More than 71% of eligible people in Canada are now fully vaccinated, and more than 82% have had their first shot. However, more than 6 million eligible people in Canada are still unvaccinated.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,447,439 cases of COVID-19 and 26,692 deaths reported in Canada. At the present time, four variants of concern are circulating in the country, including the Delta variant that is driving up cases in the U.S. Canada’s latest national 7-day moving average of 1,609 new cases reported daily (Aug 6-12), is an increase of 70% over the previous week. Following the recent rise in cases, there are early signs of increases in severity trends. The latest provincial and territorial data show that an average of 524 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Aug 6-12), which is 14% higher than last week. This includes, on average 211 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 5% more than last week and an average of 6 deaths were reported daily (Aug 6-12). “Encouragingly, evidence continues to show that a complete two-dose series of approved COVID-19 vaccines provides substantial protection,” said a Public Health Agency of Canada statement on August 13 . “The vast majority of cases and hospitalizations are in those not fully vaccinated.”