By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada’s federal employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are not exempt from getting the shots will be put on administrative leave without pay, officials said on Wednesday, while domestic air, train and cruise ship travelers and workers will soon have to show proof of vaccination.
Federal employees will be required to show proof of vaccination through an online portal by Oct 29. Workers and travelers on trains, planes and cruise ships operating domestically must show they have been inoculated by Oct. 30.
The introduction of these vaccine mandates was a cornerstone pledge by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his campaign for re-election. The Liberals returned to power in a closely contested election last month, but fell short of winning a majority.
Canada’s vaccine policy will be one of the strictest in the world.
Fiji in August forced public servants to go on leave if unvaccinated. If still not inoculated by November, they will lose their jobs. Later this month, Italy will require proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from infection for all the country’s workers.
Canada’s vaccine mandate for federal workers, first promised on Aug 13, will be reassessed every six months and stay in place until the policy is no longer required, one official said.
For travelers, a negative COVID-19 test will not be accepted as a replacement for proof of vaccination after Nov. 30, officials said. Children under 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccination in Canada will be exempted from the travel mandate.
Last week, Trudeau said he would introduce his new Cabinet this month, and lawmakers would be back in parliament this fall.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa, Additional reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Bill Berkrot)