After managing to preserve Canada's political status quo during last month's "snap" federal election, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to use whatever political capital he gained from the experience to finally roll out his government's vaccine mandate, which resembles that of its southern neighbor while going a step further in some important respects.
In part to try and jump-start stalled vaccination rates, Trudeau and his government are demanding that all public servants either get vaccinated, or face unpaid leave. This includes all federal workers "in the core public administration" and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Federal contractors including cleaning staff must be vaccinated to gain access to government buildings. The government is also asking all employees in federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors must establish vaccination policies for their employees that effectively require vaccination.
What's more, after Oct. 30, all travelers boarding planes, trains or any marine vessels will be required to have their shots. The above-mentioned workers have a few weeks to apply for exemptions - either religious or medical - but otherwise, they will be forced to choose between the jab, or losing their job. This travel mandate also applies to everyone over the age of 12.
Per the statement, "travelers will be responsible for declaring their vaccination status and providing documentation prior to boarding."
Until Nov. 30, some exceptions will be made: "For travellers who are in the process of being vaccinated, there will be a short transition period where they will be able to travel if they can show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel."
But anybody hoping to use public transit this holiday season will need to get the jabs. Any Canadians who aren't comfortable with the vaccine won't be able to fly to visit relatives who live outside driving distance (and they wouldn't be allowed in the US, leaving them effectively trapped in the country).
Circling back to the restrictions for federal workers and contractors, the unvaccinated won't even be permitted to work from home. Unvaccinated employees will be barred from going to work, either in person or remotely, and they will be put on administrative leave and denied pay, according to the CBC.
A senior official told the CBC that unvaxxed employees wouldn't even qualify for employment insurance benefits.
Trudeau bragged in a statement that Canada's restrictions on travel for the unvaccinated are some of the strongest in the world.
"These travel measures, along with mandatory vaccination for federal employees, are some of the strongest in the world because when it comes to keeping you and your family safe, when it comes to avoiding lockdowns for everyone, this is no time for half measures," Trudeau said.
"If you've done the right thing and gotten vaccinated, you deserve the freedom to be safe from COVID. To have your kids be safe from COVID. To get back to the things you love."
Trudeau is undoubtedly correct about Canada having some of the most stringent restrictions on travel, and the country also has some of the most stringent restrictions on travel for the unvaccinated. But for the employment mandate, at least, Trudeau has settled on kafkaesque mechanism for enforcement.
Employees will be required to sign an "attestation" form giving their word that they have been vaccinated. Anybody who signs the form can at any time have their vaccine status "audited" by their managers, who will then seek proof of vaccination.
Bottom line: if you're a federal worker affected by this order, and you decided to lie about your status, definitely don't tell anybody.