Air Canada to require COVID-19 vaccine for employees

Air Canada to require COVID-19 vaccine for employees
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Air Canada on Wednesday joined other major airlines in implementing a vaccine mandate for its employees, giving workers until the end of October to get fully vaccinated or risk losing their job. 

The Montreal-based airline said in a press release that all employees will need to provide proof of vaccination by Oct. 30, noting that regular testing “will not be offered as an alternative.” 

Air Canada noted that while some “valid” exemptions will be accepted, including medical conditions, all other workers who don’t meet qualifications for an accommodation “will have consequences up to and including unpaid leave or termination.” 

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The requirement is similar to the one United Airlines announced earlier this month, requiring that all employees show proof of vaccination by Oct. 25, or five weeks after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, whichever comes first. 

The FDA on Monday gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, setting off a wave of new vaccine mandates from businesses and government entities. 

Delta Air Lines also announced Wednesday that unvaccinated employees would be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge in the company’s health care plan, as well as rescinded COVID-19 pay protection.  

Air Canada said that its vaccine mandate “is another initiative to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees and customers.”

“Air Canada remains committed to the continued development and application of new safety measures and processes as they become available that are effective and convenient for customers,” the company added. “Such measures are vital to the safe restart of the air transport industry which, apart from enabling Canadians to travel freely, is also an essential driver of economic activity in Canada.” 

Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced that it would be requiring all commercial air travelers, as well as passengers on interprovincial trains and cruise ships, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

While a federal mask mandate remains in place for public transportation in the U.S., coronavirus vaccinations are not required for travelers by the federal government.

Canada has reported higher COVID-19 vaccination rates than the U.S., with about 64 percent of Canada’s total population fully vaccinated, compared to 52 percent in the U.S.