On Friday, August 13, the Government of Canada announced that it will require all employees in the federal public service to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by the fall of this year. Employees in federally regulated air, rail, and marine transport will also be required to receive the vaccine by the end of October. Accommodations, such as COVID-19 testing and screening measures, will be available for those that are not able to be vaccinated. Passengers on commercial flights, interprovincial trains and cruise ships will also need to be vaccinated.
The process on how the initiative will be implemented has yet to be released and they have not announced yet how employees that refuse to be vaccinated will be managed.
The Canadian Government also expects employers in Crown Corporations and federally regulated industries, which includes banks and telecommunications, to require that their employees be vaccinated. A list of federally regulated industries can be found here.
Of particular note, in their press release on Friday, the Government specifically encouraged organizations that are not federally regulated to have their own vaccination strategies. These organizations are to look to their relevant public health authorities and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety for guidance on creating these strategies.
The question about whether employers can require employees to be vaccinated has been looming throughout 2021. The Canadian Government’s news release on Friday indicates that, not only as the largest employer in Canada, will they require their own employees to be vaccinated, but they are encouraging other organizations to do the same. This new guidance suggests that the Canadian Government is recommending employers develop their own vaccination policies for their workforce. We continue to recommend that employers seek legal advice and contact the appropriate government body for direction prior to creating a workplace vaccination policy. The lawyers at Heeney Vokey LLP remain happy to help in this regard.