For Canada, Mandatory Vaccinations for Federally Regulated Transportation Employees, Plus Travelers

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Effective Oct. 30, the Canadian government is requiring employers in the federally regulated rail, air and marine transportation sectors to have established COVID-19 vaccination policies for employees, and travelers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains to be fully vaccinated.

The government made the announcement on Oct. 6.

According to Transport Canada, the vaccination policy requirement will apply to:
• “Federally regulated railways, and their rail crew and track employees.
• “Airlines and airports, and other organizations that have employees who enter restricted areas of airports, such as concession and hospitality workers.
• “Marine operators with Canadian vessels that operate with 12 or more crew.”

Each organization, Transport Canada said, must implement a “rigorous policy” that:
• Includes “a provision for employee attestation/declaration of their vaccination status.”
• Includes “a description of consequences for employees who do not comply or who falsify information.”
• Meets “standards consistent with the approach taken by the government of Canada for the Core Public Administration.”

In addition, after a “short phase-in period, each organization is required to guarantee employees are fully vaccinated or they will be unable to work,” according to Transport Canada. The government said that employees “unable to be vaccinated due to prohibited grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, may request accommodation.”

Travelers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains; on non-essential passenger vessels with voyages of 24 hours or more (such as cruise ships); or departing from Canadian airports will need to be vaccinated by Oct. 30. This requirement applies to all travelers 12 years of age or older, Transport Canada said.

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 government agency noted. Additionally, there will be “very limited exceptions to the vaccination requirement for travelers to address the realities of remote, fly-in communities; emergency travel; and exceptional medical reasons,” according to the Canadian government.

Transport Canada will oversee compliance. It noted that 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 travelers 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.”

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra

“Vaccines are the best way to keep each other safe,” Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said. “Requiring travelers and employees to be vaccinated ensures that everyone who travels and works in the transportation industry will better protect each other and keep Canadians safe.”

In related developments, CN in September announced that all employees in Canada are required to be vaccinated as of Nov. 1.

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