Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for travelers and federal public service employees on Wednesday morning, calling the mandates “some of the strongest in the world.”
“If you’ve done the right thing and gotten vaccinated, you deserve the freedom to be safe from COVID,” Trudeau said during a press conference. “These travel measures, along with mandatory vaccination for federal employees, are some of the strongest in the world.”
“Because when it comes to keeping you and your family safe, when it comes to avoiding lockdowns for everyone, this is no time for half measures,” Trudeau added.
According to the mandate, Canadian federal public servants in the core public administration must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29. This also applies to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police—the federal police services—and many other offices and agencies.
Federal employees who do not comply by Oct. 29 will be placed on administrative leave without pay as early as Nov. 15.
“By the end of October, everyone 12 or older on a plane or train within Canada should be fully vaccinated,” Trudeau said. “Testing will no longer be an option before boarding.”
Trudeau acknowledged there would be exemptions but warned they would be very difficult to obtain.
“Exemptions, whether they’re medical exemptions or otherwise, will be exceedingly narrow, specific, and to be honest, somewhat onerous, to obtain,” Trudeau said.
The military will issue a directive mandating vaccination for the Canadian Armed Forces. Crown corporations and government entities like the House of Commons and the Senate will implement policies that mirror the mandate, Trudeau said.
The federal employees will sign an attestation form certifying that they’ve been vaccinated instead of providing proof of vaccination. But Trudeau warned there would be serious consequences if an employee lies about the vaccination status.
There are almost 300,000 federal service workers, plus 955,000 federally regulated workers, representing about 8 percent of Canada’s full-time workforce, Reuters reported.
Trudeau said Canadians elected him to do the vaccine mandate. During his campaign in August for the reelection, Trudeau pledged to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine once reelected.
“And in the weeks to come, we’ll get the job done on a vaccine passport for international travel. We’ll be there to foot the bill for provinces and territories that roll out proof of vaccination programs, and we’ll introduce legislation to make it a criminal offense to threaten or harass healthcare workers,” Trudeau announced.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also attended the press conference. She said around 89 percent of eligible Canadians had received one vaccine dose, and around 82 percent of eligible Canadians have received both.
Canadians 12 years and older are deemed eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.