The Canadian government is mandating all air, rail, and cruise ship passengers and employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The new rules will be implemented as soon as feasible, but no later than October, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in announcing the nation’s latest steps to slow the spread of the pandemic.
“Canadians deserve to feel confident when traveling that the environment around them is safe,” Alghabra said in a video posted to Twitter announcing the plan. “We need to regain public confidence in travel.”
Canada has reported more than 1.4 million cases since the pandemic began and close to 27,000 deaths.
“This is the right thing to do and will ensure Canada continues to build back better from the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Alghabra said in a statement.
The new rules not only apply to the travel industry but will require all federal employees to be vaccinated as well. It’s part of an organized campaign to get as much of the nation vaccinated as possible
“We know vaccinations are the best way to help protect our fellow Canadians from COVID-19 variants of concern,” said Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. “We are encouraged by the many federal employees who have already been vaccinated, and hope that vaccination rates will continue to climb as the government of Canada moves ahead with its vaccination strategy.”
“There are enough doses in Canada for every person to be fully vaccinated across the country,” said Minister of Health Patty Hajdu. “By getting vaccinated, you are protecting yourself, your family, and your community.”
Requiring all air and rail passengers to be vaccinated is a huge step, but one that is welcome by the nation’s largest airline. In a statement, Air Canada officials said they have continually advocated for science-based policies in battling the pandemic.
“Although Air Canada awaits further details about today’s announcement on mandatory vaccinations, it is a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers, and all Canadians,” the airline said. “Air Canada is committed to work with its unions and the Government of Canada to implement this new policy in an effective manner.”
The announcement comes just 1 week after Canada opened its borders to U.S. travelers for the first time in 17 months. It plans to open its borders to all fully vaccinated travelers in early September.
“Driving vaccine uptake in Canada to as high a level as possible is one of the most effective, and least disruptive, means at our disposal to sustain the gains we have made in recent months, and ensure that we continue on our path to economic recovery, and a healthier and more equitable future,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board. “With this announcement, we are doing more to protect the health and safety of Canadians and reduce the risk of COVID-19.”