Canada to Introduce New Vaccination Mandates for Transportation Workforce and Travelers
As of October 30, the Canadian government will require employers in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors to establish vaccination policies for their employees. Also effective October 30, travelers departing from Canadian airports, and travelers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to travel. For travelers who are in the process of being vaccinated, there will be a short transition period where they will be able to travel if they can show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel, but that transition period will end on November 30.
The new requirement follows the government’s August 13, 2021 announcement to require COVID-19 vaccination for employees in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors and its travelers. As of October 30, employers in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors will be required to establish vaccination policies for their organizations. Specifically, the vaccination requirement will apply to:
- airlines and airports, and other organizations who have employees who enter restricted areas of airports, such as concession and hospitality workers
- federally regulated railways, and their rail crew and track employees
- marine operators with Canadian vessels that operate with 12 or more crew
Transport Canada will use its specific regulatory and oversight authorities related to operations of federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation service providers to ensure that the transportation system and these workplaces are safe through vaccination mandates.
Each organization will be required to implement a rigorous policy, which must include a provision for employee attestation/declaration of their vaccination status and a description of consequences for employees who do not comply or who falsify information. After a short phase-in period, each organization is required to guarantee employees are fully vaccinated or they will be unable to work. The government is engaging with industry and labor groups to discuss the details to ensure an effective implementation of the requirements.
For travelers, effective October 30, air passengers departing from Canadian airports, travelers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, and travelers on non-essential passenger vessels on voyages of 24 hours or more, such as cruise ships, will need to be vaccinated. The vaccination requirement will apply to all travelers 12 years of age and older who are air passengers flying on domestic, transborder or international flights departing from airports in Canada, rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, and marine passengers on non-essential passenger vessels, such as cruise ships, on voyages of 24 hours or more. For travelers who are in the process of being vaccinated, there will be a short transition period where they will be able to travel if they can show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel.
By November 30, all travellers must be fully vaccinated, with very limited exceptions to address specific situations such as emergency travel, and those medically unable to be vaccinated. The vaccination mandate will include specific accommodation to recognize the unique needs of travelers from small, remote communities (some of which are not accessible by road) to ensure they will be able to travel to obtain essential services in support of their medical, health, or social wellbeing, and return safely to their homes. This accommodation will be informed by engagement with Indigenous organizations and provinces and territories in the coming days.
Transport Canada will oversee compliance by means of inspections and enforcement tools–including Administrative Monetary Penalties–using oversight systems in place for each mode. For those who falsify information or otherwise fail to comply, there will be serious consequences. For example:
- Railway companies could be subjected to compliance actions up to £250,000 per violation, per day, under the Railway Safety Act
- In the air sector, individuals–either travellers or employees–could be fined up to £5,000 per violation under the Aeronautics Act, and operators could be fined up to £25,000 per violation
- In the marine sector, employees and travelers could be fined for being non-compliant with the obligation to provide proof of vaccination up to £250,000 per violation, per day, and operators could be fined up to £250,000 per violation, per day, for non-compliance to the Interim Order made pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001
A pan-Canadian standardized proof of vaccination for international travel is being developed in partnership with provinces and territories.
The credential will enable travelers to provide transportation operators and border officials in other countries with their validated COVID-19 vaccination history needed to facilitate travel. Canada also uses additional measures to respond to the changing global pandemic situation. For example, a previous restriction on direct flights from India has now expired but new measures have been introduced to help stop the spread of COVID-19 variants of concern.
On the first three direct flights from India after the ban was lifted, all passengers were tested for COVID-19 upon arrival. Thereafter, and from September 26, travelers arriving from India must have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Delhi airport taken within 18 hours of the scheduled departure of their direct flight to Canada. In addition, prior to boarding, air operators check the travelers’ test results ensuring they are eligible to come to Canada, and that fully vaccinated travelers have uploaded their information into the ArriveCAN mobile app or website.
Travelers who are unable to meet these requirements are denied boarding.
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