As noted in our previous communications, shipowners, operators and agents representing foreign flag cargo vessels are NOT directly subject to Transport Canada’s vaccination mandate for federally-regulated workers in the marine transportation sector, as the TC mandate applies mainly to domestic ship operators, marine pilots and cruise vessels operating in Canadian waters.
This being said, Labour Canada has announced its intention to develop new mandatory vaccination regulations for ALL federally-regulated workers, which we expect would apply to those of our members who are subject to the requirements of Part II of the Canada Labour Code. The new regulations would also apply to other supply chain stakeholders who were also not captured under the TC mandate, including longshore workers, grain elevator operators and trucking companies, as well as workers in a wide range of other industries such as banking and telecommunications.
Labour Canada held two very general consultation sessions on this initiative this week (including one this afternoon), with a view to developing the new regulations under an accelerated process and implementing them in the first part of 2022. Although many stakeholders expressed strong concern over this timeline and the lack of earlier outreach from Labour Canada, the Department indicated that it is under intense pressure to proceed with this initiative as rapidly as possible.
Although the draft regulations have not yet been released, they are likely to require employers to obtain an attestation or proof of vaccination from all employees, while allowing for exemptions for a very narrow range of medical and religious reasons. Employers would also likely be required to keep records of the above, and to develop processes for ensuring workplace safety in cases of interactions with exempted employees.
As noted above, these new regulations are being rolled out very quickly and stakeholders have been provided with minimal information about their content at this stage. We do, however, expect to receive a more detailed regulatory proposal and related guidance as early as next week, which we will share with members as soon as possible.