Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s considering making coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for some federally regulated workplaces in a bid to boost Canada’s vaccination levels.
He’s asked the country’s top bureaucrat to look at whether any federal workers should be required to get vaccinated. Almost 82 per cent of eligible Canadians at least 12 years old have their first dose and 69 per cent have both doses. It’s among the best vaccination rates in the world, but it still means almost six million eligible Canadians have no protection, on top of the 4.8 million children who haven’t yet been approved for the vaccine.
“That’s why I’ve asked the clerk of the Privy Council, who is responsible for the federal public service, to look at mandatory vaccinations for federal employees,” says Trudeau. “And we’re also looking at federally regulated industries to encourage, or perhaps even to mandate, vaccinations for those industries.”
That would include airlines, railways, banking, Parliament and Crown corporations like Canada Post. There are almost one million workers in federally regulated industries and close to half a million people who work directly for the federal government, a Crown corporation, the military or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
In late July, U.S. President Joe Biden introduced measures requiring federal employees and contractors to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to new rules including mandatory masking and weekly testing for the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says the discussion on mandatory vaccines is well underway. She says one of the key questions is who various employees will interact with and what the risk level is. “But again, to emphasize that it is really important for workplaces, if we’re going to have people come back to work, that everyone should get the vaccine.”
Also on Thursday, Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath reversed her position opposing mandatory vaccinations for education workers in the face of heavy criticism. And Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner also stated support Thursday for mandatory vaccines for education workers, unless they have a medical exemption.
But Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said he won’t mandate vaccinations for workers, saying he thinks it’s a constitutional right to refuse the shot. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Quebec’s premier said in an email on Friday the government is looking at making coronavirus vaccination mandatory for health workers but not for other public sector employees.