PM says he plans to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for federal workers – .

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PM says he plans to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for federal workers – .


OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday he plans to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for federal employees, a decision according to health and labor experts could set an example but should be a decision supported by Science.

Speaking alongside Quebec Premier François Legault, who announced his province would institute a vaccine passport amid concerns over the rising number of cases, the premier said he was also seeking to determine whether new requirements to require or encourage vaccination would be needed in federal or federal workplaces. -regulated industries such as banking, rail and air transport, and parliament.

“I asked the Clerk of the Privy Council, who is responsible for the federal public service, to review mandatory vaccinations for federal employees. And we’re also looking at federally regulated industries, to encourage or maybe even mandate vaccinations. for those industries, ”Trudeau said.

“It is time that the 80 percent of Canadians who do their duty to their neighbors, to their loved ones by being vaccinated, can return more and more to normal, more and more resume a normal life. , those who hesitate: it’s time to get vaccinated. They are safe, they are effective, ”he continued.

So far, Trudeau has largely left each province with questions about requiring proof of vaccination to participate in certain aspects of society, although the federal government has moved forward with relaxed travel restrictions for those who are. fully vaccinated.

Last week, US President Joe Biden announced that he would require all federal workers to declare their immunization status and that any worker who does not do so will have to follow safety rules such as wearing a mask and being tested. weekly.

“This is under discussion. I think the federal government, which is a large workforce, is looking for the best way to protect our workforce, as well as those around us, ”said Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Administrative Officer of public health. She said Treasury Board and departmental occupational health and safety staff are also participating in these discussions.

“I can’t somehow anticipate the outcome of these discussions, but again, to stress that it’s really important that workplaces – if we want people to come back to work – that everyone should be get vaccinated, ”Tam said, adding that part of the consideration is who these workers interact with in their work.

UNIONS WANT DETAILS

The proposal has interim support from at least one large federal public service union so far, but the key will be in the details.

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada vice-president Stéphane Aubry told CTV News his union believes there should be accommodations available for those who do not roll up their sleeves.

“It’s been a question in the air for a while,” he said. “What concerns us most [about] This is what will be the effect of, if some of our members that we represent cannot or will not be vaccinated, we want to make sure that in the plan, there would be ways for those members to still have a use.

However, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) says it wants to see a full proposal before deciding on the policy’s relevance.

“Since many of our members are already being asked to return to federal workplaces, we urge the government to provide a clear position as soon as possible and to ensure that any measures they propose take health into consideration. and the safety of our members. , their human rights as well as the protection of privacy and the protection of the public. We also expect the government to seriously consult with unions before making any decisions that could have a significant impact on our members, ”PSAC National President Chris Aylward said in a statement.

In an interview, Ottawa employment lawyer Paul Champ said there are several ways the federal government can make vaccines mandatory, but the most likely path would be for Cabinet to agree to change. the regulations of the Canada Labor Code, which governs occupational health. and federal safety and workplaces.

“The government should take a close look at the current public health risks associated with COVID, you know, given the high level of voluntary vaccination. I think the government should go a little further in terms of evidence to justify this kind of measure, or it should be prepared to do so, ”Champ said.

In statements responding to the news, Via Rail and WestJet said they already strongly recommend their employees get vaccinated, although the National Airlines Council of Canada said it had yet to hear directly. government on any vaccination requirements.

“Our members and industry will continue to work with all governments in Canada to support ongoing immunization efforts,” Board Chairman Mike McNaney said in a statement.

Asked whether Trudeau is considering mandatory vaccination for federal workplaces, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh did not take a firm position.

“When it comes to vaccination, we have to work with everyone involved. So that means working with workers’ unions, making sure we work with everyone, ”he said.

New survey data released by Nanos Research suggests that three in four Canadians support or somewhat support mandatory vaccinations for those eligible, to help control the spread of new variants of COVID-19.

“Mandatory vaccines in some areas make a lot of sense… from a federal perspective it could set an example,” said Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, infectious disease physician at Trillium Health Partners. “I think it could be something very useful. Having said that, I think there are a lot of reasons why people are reluctant to get vaccinated and it is important that we realize that this is not a group. We have to approach this in different ways. “

ARRIVES IN THE MIDDLE OF ELECTORAL CONCERNS

Prime Minister’s comments on mandatory vaccination come amid lingering concerns about an increase in new COVID-19 infections that federal public health officials say could be the start of a fourth wave “driven by the delta. “.

In light of this, Trudeau was faced with repeated questions about whether he planned to launch the country on an election campaign in the days or weeks to come, which he continued to hijack, insisting that it focuses on vaccinations and “delivering for Canadians … even as we move forward.” “

While out for a campaign-style event with a candidate Thursday at a local market, Singh continues to argue against a summer election call.

“All the sacrifices Canadians have made could be jeopardized by triggering an election which by its very nature will require rallies, people lining up to vote, people coming together to make decisions,” said Singh. noted.

Tam said on Thursday that if an election were called, measures would be put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at in-person polling stations, with Elections Canada bracing for an increase in ballots by mail.

“There are definitely ways to vote safely… I think it’s great to have an option, but voting in person can be done safely,” she said.

SCHOOL VACCINATION

Ontario announced on Wednesday that it will not require eligible students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to be able to return to school in person.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath Thursday clarified its position on mandatory vaccines for education workers, saying she supports him.

Speaking of returning to class in general, Trudeau said on Thursday that two of his three children – Ella-Grace and Xavier – were eligible to be vaccinated and just received their second doses a few days ago, while his youngest Hadrien will enter. in the 2nd year in September and will not be able to be vaccinated.

“Yes, as a father, I do care,” Trudeau said in French, encouraging everyone who is eligible to do their part now and get vaccinated to help fight a possible new outbreak of infections.

“It’s time, if you’ve been hesitant to get your first dose, to reserve your second dose, to move on. The Delta variant poses real challenges, ”Trudeau said, noting that there are currently enough doses in the country to administer to anyone eligible who wishes to be vaccinated.

With files from CTV News’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver

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