Federal Government to mandate vaccination for the aviation sector

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On Friday, August 13, 2021, The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat announced that as early as the end of September, the Government of Canada intends to require that all employees in the federal public service be vaccinated against COVID-19. In the same announcement, the Government indicated that by no later than October 31, 2021, employees in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors will also be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

At this early stage, the Government has not delineated the specific entities that will fall under this mandate. However, several airports and airport groups including the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, Ottawa International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport have issued statements since Friday supporting the mandate and confirming that they will cooperate with the Government as the mandate is implemented.

Several unions have also reacted to the mandate since it was announced last Friday. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) released a statement Friday supporting the decision with the condition that the government “consult with all stakeholders, including directly with the unions representing the affected workers as any steps towards vaccination requirements are taken.” Likewise, Teamsters Canada, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) issued statements echoing positions similar to ALPA’s.

Unifor, The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), the United Steel Workers (USW), and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have yet to issue statements regarding the mandate. However, given the effects for their members across the transportation sector, statements can be expected from each of these unions.

 

In Our View

The vaccine mandate will undoubtedly have wide-ranging implications for employers across the aviation industry. Both Air Canada and WestJet have already released statements welcoming the mandate. We encourage all industry participants to issue similar statements as implementation for all will be eased by a common refrain from the industry in support of such measures. Of course, issuing such a statement will result in employee and possibly media inquiries and so employers should be prepared to respond to such questions.

This is still a fluid situation. The Government is expected to release more information regarding the mechanics of the vaccine mandate in the near future.

For more information on your rights and obligations as an employer in the aviation sector dealing with COVID-19 vaccinations or related issues, please contact Steven Williams at 613-940-2737 or Tara Hristov at 343-999-6442.

Join us for our upcoming Webinar on this topic, the details of which will be communicated shortly, where we will discuss the Government’s vaccine mandate along with other COVID-19 updates for the aviation industry.