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Canada makes vaccines mandatory for public servants, air and rail workers, travellers

There will be a one-month grace period where proof of a recent negative COVID test will still be accepted
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Syringes with Moderna COVID-19 vaccine before a drive-thru vaccine clinic in Kingston, Ontario on June 4, 2021.

OTTAWA — The core public service, air travel and rail employees and travellers must all be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October, according to Canada’s new mandatory vaccine policy.

The federal government says public servants must attest they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29, or be put on unpaid administrative leave.

Meanwhile, the government is working with employers of airport businesses, airline and rail companies to develop their own mandatory vaccine policies by the end of the month.

Anyone wishing to hop aboard a plane or train must have received a second dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine at least 14 days before their travels. 

For travellers, there will be a short transition period to allow the unvaccinated to show a negative molecular COVID-19 test instead, though the grace period will last only until Nov. 30.

Senior government officials said during a technical briefing, provided on the condition they not be named, said anyone planning a trip in the coming weeks needs to book their vaccine appointment now.

The new policy will affect more than 267,000 core public-service and RCMP workers, officials said, and will apply even to those who work from home and outside of the country. 

They will have to provide an attestation of their vaccine status online. The attestations will be tracked and audited by departments, and managers can ask for proof of vaccination at any time. 

Employees who provide false attestations will be punished with disciplinary action, including firings.

People who have had only one dose will be given 10 weeks to get their next one before they are put on unpaid leave.

They will not be allowed back at work until they are either vaccinated or the policy is no longer in effect.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2021.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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