Federal government announces suspension of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for domestic and outbound travelers

The federal government announced today (Tues) the suspension of some COVID-19 vaccine mandates that will take effect Monday, June 20.

It applies to domestic travelers on planes, passenger trains and buses, outbound international travelers, and federally-regulated workers.

The requirements for foreign nationals coming to Canada will not change, and travelers will still need to wear masks and fill out the ArriveCan app.

The change will also affect federal workers who have been put on unpaid leave because of their vaccination status. Treasury Board President Mona Fortier says those who have been on leave will be contacted by their managers to resume their regular duties with pay.  The government hasn’t revealed how many employees have been put on leave due to their vaccination status, but reports 98.5 per cent of public servants are fully vaccinated.

Several ministers point to Canada’s high vaccination rate as the government announced the changes.

More than 89 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12 have at least two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. However, only about 55 per cent of them have received a booster shot.

Intergovernmental affairs minister Dominic LeBlanc says the decision to suspend some vaccine mandates is based on science and not a response to long wait times at Canada’s airports. LeBlanc also dismissed claims from the opposition that this decision is politically motivated.

The government has been under pressure from the opposition parties, as well as industry organizations, to relax some public health measures in response to delays and long lineups at airports.

LeBlanc also warns the government is prepared to bring back policies if there’s a resurgence of the virus in the fall.

(With files from The Canadian Press)

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