VIA Rail announces mandatory vaccination policy for ages 12 and up

Here’s what the NACC and the Roundtable have to say about Canada’s vaccination mandate

TORONTO — Both the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) and the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable are calling on the federal government to quickly implement a pan-Canadian system for proof of vaccination, following yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Trudeau about Canada’s new proof of vaccination mandate for travellers.

The Prime Minister confirmed in a news briefing that everyone 12 and older travelling on a plane or train must show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 by Oct. 30. An interim period will allow those who have just started the vaccination process to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test as an alternative, until Nov. 30.

In response, the Roundtable, a coalition of leaders in Canada’s tourism and travel sector, said that it welcomed the increased clarity from the federal government. Said Beth Potter, President & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada: “The federal government’s announcement effectively makes travel one of the safest activities in the country. With these measures in place, the transportation sector becomes one of the only sectors requiring fully vaccinated employees and customers. Since the start of the pandemic, travel has been unfairly labelled as unsafe and risky. This announcement will help to increase passenger confidence.”

Potter went on to urge the government to act quickly to implement the system.

“Now that the government has announced details around mandatory vaccinations for travellers, the Roundtable calls on the Government of Canada to take an active role in ensuring the timely implementation of a pan-Canadian proof of vaccination that would allow for the harmonization, efficiency and interoperability of vaccine certification programs across the country,” she said.

The Roundtable is calling on the federal government to review the outdated measures currently in place that were implemented before Canada became the most fully vaccinated country in the G20. These measures – such as the pre-departure PCR test and the blanket travel advisories warning Canadian against international travel – continue to hamper many businesses in the Canadian travel and tourism sector.

Mike McNaney, President and CEO of the NACC, which represents Canada’s largest air carriers including Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet, also called for urgent action from the government.

“Since the outset of the pandemic, Canada’s major airlines have been committed to protecting employee and passenger health and fully supported the travel and employee vaccination requirements when first announced by the federal government in August. Since then, air carriers have moved forward with their respective mandatory vaccination policies for employees to ensure compliance by the end of October.

“However, because consultations could not be held during the election campaign concerning mandatory vaccination requirements for air travellers, further to today’s announcement we are urgently looking forward to immediate engagement with officials on the implementation details and proposed regulations, including the responsibilities of government agencies.

“Timelines are very tight to implement the travel rules. While we are committed to effective implementation it is imperative that the federal government quickly develop a standardized and digital proof of vaccination for air travel,” said McNaney.

He added that it is imperative for the government to work with the NACC to determine what measures established prior to the full vaccination mandates can be amended, such as mandatory PCR testing pre-departure for fully vaccinated international travellers coming to Canada.

“In May the government’s own COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel recommended the removal of pre-departure PCR testing for the fully vaccinated, a move that would be consistent with the approach adopted by other countries including Germany, France, UK, Denmark,” he said. “The current blanket federal travel advisories also need to be reconsidered, given that the new rules will require air travellers leaving Canada to also be fully vaccinated.”

McNaney added that as these new policies are implemented, “Canada’s major carriers will maintain their ongoing support for vaccination campaigns, while continuing to invest heavily in the safe restart of travel and tourism in order to drive our national economic recovery in every region of the country.”

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