COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates & Passports – Cross Canada Review

Across Canada, we have seen governments implementing COVID-19 vaccine mandates or passports. Vaccine mandates tend to focus on requiring employees in certain industries (e.g., health care, public sector) to be vaccinated, while COVID-19 vaccination passports restrict individual access to certain businesses (e.g., restaurants, entertainment and sporting venues).

Here is a quick update on the state of government-mandated COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada.*

Federal

The federal government announced:

  • travellers using federally regulated transportation must be fully vaccinated (subject to a transition period until November 30, when they may provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel);
  • COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory in all federally regulated workplaces per future amendments to regulations under Part II of the Canada Labour Code.

Employers in federal transportation sectors must establish vaccination policies for their employees. Transport Canada will oversee compliance. Non-compliant companies, employees and travellers may be subject to fines.

Also, federal public servants must provide a vaccine attestation. Public servants who refuse to disclose their status or who are not fully vaccinated may be placed on an unpaid administrative leave, subject to medical exemptions.

Alberta

Specified businesses must implement the “restrictions exemption program” (i.e., COVID-19 vaccine passport) or adhere to COVID-19 restrictions. Per the restrictions exemption program, these businesses must only provide services to persons age 12+ who give:

  • proof of full vaccination through a Government of Alberta COVID-19 Immunization Record with a QR Code or a valid First Nation Immunization Record; 
  • a documented medical exemption (a signed letter from a physician or nurse practitioner);or
  • a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of service (paid for by the individual).

Businesses that do not implement the restrictions exemption program are subject to capacity limits and restrictions. See the Alberta announcement for a summary of impacted businesses.

All health care employees and contracted health care providers must be fully immunized against COVID-19 by November 30, 2021. 

Public sector workers must submit proof of full vaccination by November 30, 2021, or produce a negative PCR or rapid COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of every scheduled workday or shift.

British Columbia

Persons who are 12+ must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination to access certain events, services and businesses. This includes indoor organized gatherings like weddings, parties, conferences, meetings and workshops, and businesses like restaurants, casinos and gyms. See the full list of businesses.

covid-19 vaccine mandate

In addition, all visitors at long term care homes and all contractors and others accessing employee-only areas of indoor public sector workplaces must be fully vaccinated by December 13, 2021. [Note: This does not apply to members of the public accessing government services.]

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control published guidance and a submission form for requesting an exemption from COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

All B.C. public sector workers must be vaccinated by November 22, 2021.

To enter B.C., people from other Canadian provinces or territories will be required to show:

  • Provincially/territorially officially recognized vaccine record; and
  • Valid government ID from the same province or territory.

Manitoba

Per Manitoba Public Health Order, members of the public cannot access specified activities and services unless they provide proof that they are fully vaccinated. This includes businesses in hospitality, entertainment and sports and recreation industries.

All provincial employees that have ongoing contact with “vulnerable populations” must be fully immunized or undergo regular testing. This includes: healthcare, educational, and child care workers and those who work in congregate/residential settings and in correctional facilities.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick announced that everyone age 12+ will be required to show proof of vaccination when accessing certain events, services and businesses. Individuals who are unable to receive a vaccine due to a medical exemption will be required to show proof. Affected businesses include restaurants, sporting events, movie theatres and recreation facilities. Workers in these industries must also be fully vaccinated or tested regularly.

Anyone entering the province must preregister their travel, and provide proof of vaccination.

Newfoundland & Labrador

COVID-19 vaccine mandatePer the Special Measures Order (Re-Opening Travel), persons arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador from outside Atlantic Canada must self-isolate unless they are partially or fully vaccinated.

Persons who are age 12+ will have to provide proof of full vaccination in order to access events and activities in hospitality, entertainment and sports and recreation industries, as well as congregate living settings for seniors. Effective December 17, 2021, these businesses/organizations must also ensure that their employees and service providers are fully vaccinated before entering their premises, subject to approved medical exemptions granted by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner. This rule regarding employees and service providers also applies to ambulance, education, firefighters, and health care.

Nova Scotia

Per Nova Scotia’s public health order, persons arriving in Nova Scotia from outside Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island (and not engaged in “essential travel”) must apply through the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form. Persons who are not fully vaccinated must self-quarantine for 14 days or undergo testing beginning on day 6 or 7 and self-isolate until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

In addition, Nova Scotia announced that persons who are age 12+ will have to provide proof of full vaccination in order “to participate in most events and activities that bring groups of people together.” See the government policy for affected businesses.

Workers in healthcare, long-term care, corrections and education must be fully vaccinated by November 30, 2021 (subject to medical exemptions).

Ontario

Employers/owners must comply with any public health advice, recommendations and instructions regarding a COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Per regulation, persons who are age 12+ will have to provide proof of their vaccination status and identity to access certain businesses, services and events. This mandate is subject to specified exemptions, including a medical exemption. Affected businesses include those in the hospitality, entertainment and sports and recreation industries (see the regulation for the full list).

Per the Ontario Chief Medical Officer directivehospitals and home/community care service providers must have a COVID-19

 vaccination policy for employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers, which requires these persons to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a medical exemption.

Prince Edward Island

Per the COVID-19 Prevention and Self-Isolation Order, persons who are age 8+ must be tested upon arrival in PEI (regardless of vaccination status and time outside of the province). Only vaccinated persons may apply for a PEI Pass. Persons who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 8 days (and be tested on the 8th day), subject to specified exemptions.

Persons who are age 12+ must provide proof of full vaccination in order to access certain indoor and outdoor businesses, services and events in hospitality, entertainment and sports and recreation industries.

PEI requires COVID-19 testing and vaccination measures in community care and long term care facilities. Further, public service providers must establish, implement and ensure compliance with COVID-19 vaccination information and testing policy for their staff. 

Quebec

Per Quebec order, a COVID-19 vaccination passport (plus proof of identity) is required for persons age 13+ to access non-essential services. This includes indoor organized gatherings like conventions and businesses in the hospitality, entertainment and sports and recreation industries. 

People travelling to Québec must show photo ID and proof, issued by their country or Canadian province, that they have been fully immunized.

New hires of Quebec’s health and social services network must provide proof of vaccination.

Saskatchewan

Everyone who is age 12+ must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test in order to access establishments, businesses and event venues that bring groups of people together. See the announcement for a list of affected businesses.

Private sector employers may (and public sector employers must) require their workers to:

  • be fully vaccinated; or
  • provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result (from the previous 7 days) before entering the workplace.

Employers have to provide notice of vaccine requirements, and establish a verification process for confirming an employee’s vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result.

Workers must arrange COVID-19 tests on non-work hours, and pay the costs associated with taking a COVID-19 test. Workers are not required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result while on vacation or leave, until returning to the workplace.

Also see our earlier post: Which Provinces Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination Leave?

 


*This article does not review any COVID-19 vaccination requirements implemented by municipal governments.