Vaccine mandates lift for Canadian travellers, federal workers

Millions of unvaccinated Canadians can board planes again. But the lifting of vaccine mandates for air travel doesn’t mean passengers will be processed more quickly at the country’s clogged airports. Caryn Ceolin with why.

Vaccine mandates in Canada for domestic and international travel, as well as federally regulated workers, have temporarily come to an end on Monday.

The federal government announced last week that the COVID-19 vaccine mandates would be suspended for domestic travel on planes and trains, as well as all outbound international travellers, as of June 20.

Quarantine and testing requirements remain in effect for unvaccinated Canadians returning to Canada. Travellers are still required to fill out the health questionnaire via the ArriveCan app upon arrival.

The mask mandate for travellers also remains in place. Mandatory vaccination still applies to cruise ships and foreign nationals entering Canada.

The requirement for passengers leaving Canadian airports and those wanting to travel domestically on a train or plane to show proof of vaccination had been in effect since Oct. 30, 2021.

As of Monday, the government has also lifted COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federally regulated workers, including those in public service, the RCMP, as well as transport workers, including truckers.

Crown corporations and other agencies are also being asked to drop their mandates.

Feds say decision not based on airport delays, mandates could return

The changes come amid long lineups due to staffing shortages at airports in Canada, with many travellers expressing their frustrations with the delays in recent months as travel rebounds following a pandemic hiatus.

However, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the decision to drop the mandate was not based on the situation at airports but rather, “based on science.”

The lifting of vaccination requirements for federally regulated workers will allow airline and airport employees on unpaid leave to return to the job.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said they are making this change now because the context of the pandemic has changed since its arrival in 2020.

“We now benefit from better levels of immunity from both vaccination and infection, the wider availability of anti-viral drugs and/or decreasing hospitalization rates,” he said.

LeBlanc cautioned that the government might “bring back” the mandates if the situation with the virus changes.

With files from Patricia D’Cunha and Lucas Casaletto

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