Trudeau moving ahead with COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal public servants
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reaffirming his pre-election pledge to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for federal public servants.
"We're going to ensure the federal public service is vaccinated," the prime minister said while speaking at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Ottawa on Tuesday. "There is a clear requirement of vaccination for anyone who works for the federal government."
The federal government announced in August that it intends to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all federal public service workers and Canadian Armed Forces members. The federal public service is Ottawa's largest employer.
"[F]or those few who are unable to be vaccinated, accommodation or alternative measures, such as testing and screening, may be determined in each situation, to protect broader public health by reducing the risk of COVID-19," the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said in a news release on Aug. 13.
Data for the number of public servants who had received COVID-19 vaccines to date was not immediately available but, locally, Ottawa Public Health says 83 per cent of adults 18 and older have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and are considered fully vaccinated.
In a statement Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Treasury Board said that it is assumed public servants are vaccinated at the same rate as the general public.
"We know that 80% of eligible people in Canada are fully vaccinated, and over 85% have had their first shot. While we do not yet have precise numbers on vaccination rates amongst public servants, we do not have reason to believe that the vaccination rate in the public service is different than in the general Canadian population," the Treasury Board said.
What happens to federal workers who refuse to be vaccinated remains unclear. Trudeau told reporters the public service continues to work on its mandatory vaccination plan and he promised additional details in the coming weeks.
"The way through this pandemic, everyone knows, is to ensure as many people as possible get vaccinated," Trudeau said.
Speaking on CTV News Channel's Power Play on Tuesday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu told Evan Solomon that discussions around consequences for unvaccinated employees continue to take place.
"Those are conversations that are happening right now with the federal public service and the unions," Hajdu said. "By and large, people understand we need to protect each other in common spaces, especially workplaces."