OTTAWA -- Ottawa is set to become the first transit service in Canada to make face masks mandatory for all riders on public transit.

Starting Monday, all OC Transpo employees and passengers will be required to wear a cloth mask when entering transit stations and on board buses, the O-Train and Para Transpo vehicles.

The mandatory face mask requirement is part of the OC Transpo Transit Service Recovery Plan as the COVID-19 restrictions are eased in Ottawa.

While the City of Ottawa's policy states masks are mandatory on buses and the O-Train, OC Transpo insists no customer will be denied boarding if they are not wearing a mask. Instead, the transit service is focusing on educating riders about the importance of wearing a mask to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

"What we'll be doing is helping them to understand why they should be wearing a mask, help them to understand how they can get a mask," said Pat Scrimgeour, Director of Transit Customer Systems and Planning in an interview with

"For those people who have a medical condition or a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, we certainly understand that and won't be requiring that."

Scrimgeour says all Transit Services staff have received training on the face mask policy and what the "expectations are" for customers.

The training included directing staff not to confront or argue with customers who refuse to wear a mask or fine customers who refuse to wear a mask.

An advertising campaign on the mandatory face mask policy for OC Transpo includes audio announcements on buses and trains, and pamphlets handed out to riders at stations.

OC Transpo will have 200,000 disposable masks for distribution at transit stations during the first week of the mandatory face mask policy.

Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed at all 31 major bus rapid transit stations and all 13 stations along the Confederation Line.