Canada to require vaccines for air travelers, federal staff

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced a series of nationwide mandatory vaccination requirements, only days before an expected election call.

Government officials made the announcement Friday, saying the plan is to require employees of the federal government to be inoculated by early fall. Workers and passengers in the transportation sector— including air, rail and cruise ships — will also need proof of vaccination by no later than end of October.

It’s the most dramatic step Trudeau has taken to date on vaccination rules in a bid to speed up an inoculation drive that is losing steam. The announcement also illustrates how the Liberals are likely to try framing the election around public health issues, where they believe they have an advantage.

“We need to regain public confidence in travel. Such confidence will give a boost to our industry,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said at a press conference, with other ministers.

Other countries, like the U.S., are taking similar steps to impose stricter rules for federal workers in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19. Canada has a relatively high vaccination rate with 72% of the eligible population vaccinated.

According to a poll by Nanos Research Group for Bloomberg News, 50% of Canadians believe Trudeau’s government has done a good job of managing the crisis, with 23% saying he’s done poorly.

Air Canada fell 1.3% to C$24.30 as of 2:07 p.m. in Toronto, though other North American airline stocks were also down Friday.

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