Vaccine mandate triggers first wedge issue

The Liberal Party of Canada’s proposed federal employee vaccine mandate has become an early wedge issue in the upcoming election.

In its Aug. 13 announcement, the Liberal party signaled its intention to require all employees of the federal public service to get vaccinated by the end of September at the earliest and October at the latest. The announcement also outlined accommodations and alternative measures for those who are unable to get vaccinated.

The plan has not been finalized, and the announcement states the details will come as the mandate is implemented.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau stated that failure to comply would result in consequences for employees but did not elaborate what those consequences might be.

Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party is pushing for a firmer version of the Liberal party’s vaccine mandate, including disciplinary measures and firing for non-compliant employees.

Suggestions that employees could be terminated over refusal to comply with the vaccine mandate has the public service alliance of Canada (PSAC) — the union representing federal government employees — on edge.

“PSAC supports vaccination requirements for federal workers to ensure the safety of our members in their workplaces, and to protect our communities, but using discipline and termination to enforce them is unacceptable,” a website update from the group read. The Conservative Party of Canada opposes the vaccine mandate and instead expressed support for daily rapid testing.