Canada mandates Covid vaccines for travellers, federal workers
Ottawa (AFP) - Canada's federal bureaucrats, police and soldiers, as well as domestic air and rail travelers will soon need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, officials announced Wednesday.
The mandatory vaccine policy proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a recent election campaign covers an estimated 300,000 government employees.
Some medical exemptions will be allowed, but others will be put on administrative leave without pay if not vaccinated by month's end.
All air and rail travelers 12 years or older in Canada will also be required to be fully vaccinated by the end of November.
"These responsible, practical, and tough actions...will protect Canadians, prevent our health care systems from being overwhelmed, allow our children to continue to go to school (and) accelerate our economic recovery," Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference.
It will also ensure that "a minority of people (opposed to Covid-19 jabs) cannot sabotage Canada's economic recovery," she said.
More than 82 percent of Canadians 12 years and over are fully vaccinated and 88 percent have received at least one dose, according to the Covid-19 Vaccination Tracker website.
Trudeau noted there would be "severe consequences" for any federal worker who misrepresents their inoculation status.
He also said his administration would in the coming weeks unveil a vaccine passport for international travel, and introduce legislation "to make it a criminal offense to threaten or harass healthcare workers."
The latter is in response to anti-vaccine protests that targeted hospitals and clinics across Canada in recent months, provoking public outrage.