Over 95 per cent of federal public service workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the government reported Wednesday, bringing most of the workforce in line with a new nationwide mandate.
Employees had until last Friday to declare their vaccination status. As of Wednesday, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat says 99.7 per cent of the roughly 268,000 workers employed in the public service have submitted their attestations.
Of those, 1,255 employees — 0.5 per cent of the workforce — remain unvaccinated, while 3,150 employees, or 1.2 per cent, have requested an exemption.
Nearly three per cent of employees have only received one vaccine dose. The online data page does not say if those workers plan to get the required second dose.
In a statement released late Wednesday, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier thanked public servants for stepping up in the fight against COVID-19.
“The Government of Canada is our country’s largest employer. I would like to thank the more than a quarter of a million public servants across Canada and around the world who have demonstrated leadership in our national vaccination effort against COVID-19,” she said.
“We know that having a fully vaccinated workforce means that not only are work sites safer, so are the communities where this large population lives and works. It also means better protection for Canadians coming in-person to access government services.”
COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for federal workers by end of October: Freeland
The mandate, announced on Oct. 6, applies to all federal government workers as well as RCMP members. It covers not just on-site employees but also those who are teleworking or working remotely.
Disciplinary action is expected to begin Nov. 15, which will involve putting unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave. Those employees will not qualify for employment insurance benefits, officials said last month.
The government has previously said that those who have had only one dose will be given 10 weeks to get their next one before they are put on unpaid leave. They won’t be allowed back at work until they are either vaccinated or the policy is no longer in effect.
Under the mandate, accommodations can be made for people who can’t get a vaccine on grounds protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act, which includes certain religious and health reasons.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised last month that exemptions will be difficult to obtain, and having a personal belief that vaccines are “bad” will not work.
The government has also mandated vaccinations for employees in federally-regulated air, rail and marine transportation to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 30.
The federal data was released on the same day that Quebec backtracked on mandating vaccinations for health-care workers, while Ontario announced it would not introduce a similar mandate in that province.
— with files from Aaron D’Andrea and the Canadian Press
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