Two of Canada’s largest airline companies have voiced their support for the country’s newest mandate, which calls for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for commercial air travel.
The announcement was made by federal officials on Friday, during a news conference with Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc and Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra.
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All commercial air passengers, interprovincial train passengers, and cruise ship passengers will need to be fully immunized.
This order will also apply to anyone working in those respective sectors. All public servants working for the federal government will need to show proof of immunization by the end of October.
Air Canada responded shortly after the announcement was made, calling it a “welcome step forward.”
“It is a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers, and all Canadians,” the company said in a statement.
“Air Canada also remains committed to the continued development and application of new safety measures and processes that are effective and convenient for customers as they become available. Such measures are vital to the safe restart of the air transport industry which, apart from enabling Canadians to travel freely, is also an essential driver of economic activity in Canada.”
Similarly, Westjet said that the announcement by Alghabra was “welcomed.”
“We continue to be a strong partner in Canada’s vaccination rollout and are working diligently to implement the government’s policy on mandatory vaccines for airline employees,” said Mark Porter, WestJet Executive Vice President, People and Culture, in a similar statement. “Vaccinations are the most effective way to ensure the safety of our guests and employees while curbing the spread of COVID-19.”
Both Air Canada and WestJet noted, however, that they’re still seeking additional details and clarification from the Canadian government over the new mandate.
During Friday’s announcement, Alghabra also explained that alternative measures and accommodations would be made for staff who cannot get vaccinated for legitimate reasons. Federally regulated sectors and Crown corporations, including CBC and Canada Post, will also need to create vaccination policies by the end of October.
“For those few unable to be vaccinated, accommodation or alternative measures such as testing and screening may be determined in each situation,” Alghabra said.
With files from Megan Devlin