September 27, 2021 | Circular No. 11321

Dear Member,

Further to CL 11315, you will find below a summary of the results of our recent member survey on Covid-19 vaccinations for land-based employees, and the potential role of Transport Canada in mandating vaccinations for federally regulated transportation workers overall:

Summary of Survey Results

A majority of members reported that they are federally regulated (although a few fall under provincial jurisdiction) and that their employees are therefore subject to federal regulations (note that this applies to land-based workers only and does NOT extend to seafarers who serve as crews on board members’ ships).

Member companies can be divided into two major groups with respect to the type of work done by their federally-regulated, land-based workforce:

  • Companies whose employees work exclusively or primarily in an office setting with some off-site visits to customers, vendors, etc.;
  • Companies whose employees work in an office setting AND spend time off-site – usually travelling to/from and boarding ships.

Most members do NOT have a formal vaccination policy in place (this is consistent regardless of company size or type). The most commonly cited reasons for lack of such a policy include the following:

  • Companies are comfortable encouraging their employees to get vaccinated, but have concerns over the implications (legal and otherwise) of making this a condition of employment (or part of a formal policy);
  • Company workforce has already been fully vaccinated (on an individual, voluntary basis), so there is no need to implement a formal policy (this was reported mostly by companies with a relatively small number of employees);
  • Companies are awaiting guidance from Transport Canada before moving ahead with their own vaccination policies;

A majority of members believe that a clear vaccination mandate and policy from Transport Canada would assist with their own efforts to ensure a safe, fully-vaccinated workplace for their employees, especially if such a policy were to explicitly name the specific sectors and groups of employees to whom it applies (rather than simply saying that it applies to federally-regulated employees).  Other useful elements of a TC vaccination policy would include guidance on issues such as accommodation measures for unvaccinated employees; legitimate reasons for refusing vaccination; and enforceability of a vaccination mandate from a legal perspective;

Perhaps the clearest takeaway from the survey is that most members are looking to Transport Canada for leadership and guidance on the issue of mandatory vaccination for their employees, and many are refraining from taking any concrete action on this matter until TC provides additional details on the vaccination mandate announced this past August.

We have shared the above information with Transport Canada and expect to engage in additional discussions with the department over the next few weeks, as it works to further refine its vaccination policy in time for a planned November 1st implementation date.

We  take this opportunity to thank members who took the time to participate in the survey, as this is the best way of ensuring that the operational realities of the ocean shipping sector are appropriately factored into TC’s thinking on the vaccination issue.


Karen Kancens
Vice President