Vaccination policies and human rights: Frequently asked questions for employers and employees
The purpose of this FAQ guide is to answer commonly asked questions about proof of vaccination policies for federally-regulated employers and employees.
Vaccination is the most important public health tool at our disposal to reduce the risk of COVID‑19. It is important that those who can get the vaccine do so – to protect themselves, their colleagues, families, friends and communities.
The Government of Canada announced in August that vaccination will be required across the federal public service.
The latest details on the implementation of the vaccination requirement state that federal public servants, including members of the RCMP, will be required to confirm their vaccination status by October 29, 2021. Those who are unwilling to disclose their vaccination status or to be fully vaccinated will be placed on administrative leave without pay as early as November 15, 2021.
Crown corporations and separate agencies are being asked to mirror this policy. Similar directives requiring vaccination will be issued by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Employers in the federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors will have until October 30, 2021, to establish similar vaccination policies that ensure employees are vaccinated.
As of October 30, travellers departing from Canadian airports or Canadian rail systems will be required to be fully vaccinated.
Do vaccination requirements violate human rights principles?
- No. Rights are not absolute. Reasonable limits can be placed on our rights when it applies to public health and safety.
Is requiring vaccination for federally-regulated employers and employees a discriminatory practice?
- No. Requiring that an individual be vaccinated to work or travel is not a discriminatory practice under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- Vaccination requirements are not a discriminatory practice because they are intended (and are necessary) to protect public health and safety.
Is there a Duty to Accommodate requirement for people who cannot receive a vaccine?
- Employers have a duty to accommodate only those people who are unable to receive a vaccine for reasons relating to a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- Employers and service providers will need to explore reasonable options for accommodating such people, unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer or service provider considering health, safety and cost.
Is requiring mask usage for federally-regulated employers and employees a discriminatory practice?
- No. Requiring that an individual wear a mask to work or travel is not a discriminatory practice under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Are mask exemption cards claiming to be produced by the Canadian Human Rights Commission legitimate?
- No. Fake medical exemption cards are being circulated or sold online, claiming to exempt the user from needing to wear a mask. Some of these cards claim to be issued by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. These cards are fake. The Commission has not and would not produce posters or cards claiming that the cardholder has an exemption from wearing a face mask in closed public places. Canadians should not share or use these fraudulent cards.
For complaints or more information
- Public servants can discuss concerns about vaccination and masking requirements with their manager or union representative. Complaints should be made through their unions
- As of October 30, travellers departing from Canadian airports or federally-regulated rail systems will be required to be fully vaccinated. Travellers who wish to file complaints about vaccination requirements should contact the Canadian Transportation Agency.
- The full vaccination policy, released by the Treasury Board Secretariat, can be found here. If the TBS guidance does not apply to your employer, consult your HR division for a copy of your organization’s policies.
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