Canada to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations for Federal Workers

The Government of Canada has announced plans to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for federal public servants, employees in federally regulated private sectors and for commercial air, rail and marine travellers. This will potentially affect over two million employees.

The Federal Government has said that, as early as the end of September 2021, it will require all federal public servants to be vaccinated.

By no later than the end of October 2021, the Government also expects to require individuals in the following areas to also be vaccinated for COVID-19:

  • all employees in the federally regulated air, rail and marine sectors;
  • passengers on commercial air lines;
  • passengers on interprovincial trains; and
  • passengers on large marine vessels with overnight accommodations.

The Government will require employers in other federally regulated industries, as well as federal Crown corporations, to ensure that all employees are vaccinated by a later date. In addition to the federally regulated air, rail and marine sectors, federally regulated industries include the following:

  • banks, including authorized foreign banks;
  • grain elevators, feed and seed mills, feed warehouses and grain-seed cleaning plants;
  • First Nations band councils (including certain community services on reserve);
  • port services, tunnels, canals, bridges and pipelines (oil and gas) that cross international or provincial borders;
  • radio and television broadcasting;
  • road transportation services, including trucks and buses, that cross provincial or international borders;
  • telecommunications, such as telephone, internet, telegraph and cable systems;
  • uranium mining and processing and atomic energy; and
  • any business that is vital, essential or integral to the operation of one of the above activities.

The Government will consider and address exemptions to vaccination requirements as necessary, with “accommodation or alternative measures” (which may include testing or screening) applied on a case-by-case basis.

The Government also calls on “all organizations beyond the federally regulated sector to put in place their own vaccination strategies.” Private and non-private employers who are not federally-regulated may consider this guidance when developing their own approach to vaccination requirements.

With input from stakeholders, including from impacted employers, the Federal Government will develop and implement. Employers who are directly impacted by this announcement, and those who wish to discuss their vaccination strategy, should contact a member of our labour and employment team for further advice.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.