People who refuse COVID-19 vaccination will not be permitted to board domestic flights in Canada or travel interprovincially on trains unless they have medical exemptions, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Wednesday, for the first time ruling out any accommodations for unvaccinated travellers.
Mr. Trudeau made his comments at a campaign stop in Vancouver, in response to a question about whether a re-elected Liberal government would offer alternatives for people who aren’t inoculated against the novel coronavirus. He said he would implement the new restrictions if he forms the next government.
“We are absolutely unequivocal on that because this is how we get through this pandemic,” he added.
The Liberals have made a proposed vaccine mandate a key issue in the federal election campaign. The policy was announced by the government two days before Mr. Trudeau called a snap election on Sunday, but it was initially unclear whether unvaccinated people without medical exemptions would be able to avoid restrictions, such as by taking rapid COVID-19 tests.
The party has provided few details on how the mandate will work or be enforced. It would apply to federal civil servants, federally regulated industries, domestic air travellers and interprovincial rail, bus and cruise passengers.
It appeared briefly that the Liberals would offer some form of accommodation to federal civil servants who refused a vaccine, possibly by allowing them to take rapid tests. But on Tuesday Mr. Trudeau said that information – which was contained in an online government memo – was inaccurate, and that there would be consequences for federal employees who don’t get immunized.
Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, but the pace of new inoculations has levelled off in recent weeks. So far, 73 per cent of eligible people (those aged 12 and over) have been fully vaccinated, according to the University of Saskatchewan-based website COVID-19 Tracker.
In total, 24.3 million Canadians have been fully vaccinated, leaving millions who are not protected against COVID-19 and therefore wouldn’t be allowed to board a plane or travel by rail interprovincially if the Liberals are re-elected.