October 21, 2021 | Circular No. 11326

Dear Member,

Further to CL 11323, Transport Canada has not yet provided definitive guidance on the scope of its mandatory vaccination policy for regulated workers in the transportation sector.  The Department has, however, shared a discussion paper with stakeholders, which outlines the key elements of its proposed policy and provides some indication of what we may see once the final policy is released.

According to the discussion paper, the federal vaccination mandate would not be applicable to crew of foreign, non-passenger vessels operating in Canadian waters.

The mandate would, however, be applicable to the following employee groups:

  • Organizations with crew on Canadian vessels operating with 12 employees or more onboard
  • Any person, besides a passenger, boarding a Canadian vessel operating with 12 employees or more onboard
  • Organizations with crew on both Canadian passenger vessels operating everywhere and foreign passenger vessels operating in Canadian waters, regardless of the number of crew, on voyages of 24 hours or more (excluding ferries)
  • Canadian marine pilots boarding a domestic or foreign vessel

Companies to whom the mandate applies will be expected to develop a vaccination policy that captures ALL employees within their organization (and not only crew and employees working onboard a vessel).  Although such companies will be allowed to determine the most efficient manner in which to implement the mandate according to their own operations, an appropriate policy would need to include a number of key elements, including a mandatory vaccination policy statement, a process for reviewing exemptions (which will be limited to very narrow medical and religious grounds), measures for unvaccinated employees, required proof of vaccination, and consequences of non-compliance with the policy.  The policy would also need to indicate its scope of applicability (which could potentially include external contractors and service providers with whom employees interact).

According to the timeline provided in the discussion paper, the new policy will come into effect on November 1 (by means of an Interim Order), and all employees covered by the Order will have to be  fully vaccinated by January 24, 2022.

Although not part of the discussion paper, it is also our understanding that the federal government has asked Canada Port Authorities to introduce measures to ensure that individuals accessing port areas are fully vaccinated.  Further details as to the scope of this directive and how it will be implemented are not yet available.

Based on the above, it does not appear that employees of marine agencies or shipping companies working in the foreign flag sector will be directly captured under Transport Canada’s policy. 

This being said, it is possible that such employees may nevertheless be indirectly captured under the vaccination policies that organizations such as domestic ship operators, pilotage authorities and port authorities str required to implement under the federal mandate, especially if such policies extend to external contractors and service providers.

We continue to seek more concrete information from Transport Canada on all of the above, and will revert with additional guidance as this becomes available. In the meantime, members with questions on any of the foregoing should contact the undersigned.


Karen Kancens
Vice President