Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he has asked the clerk of the Privy Council to look into making vaccines mandatory for federal employees and is pleading with hesitant Canadians to get their shots.
"It's time for people to get vaccinated, and for those who are hesitant to go and get their first and second doses," Trudeau said during a press conference with Quebec Premier François Legault today.
"That's why I've asked the clerk of the Privy Council, who is responsible for the federal public service, to look at mandatory vaccinations for federal employees."
The prime minister also said the government is looking into making vaccines mandatory in federally regulated industries, such as the airline, banking and rail sectors.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced last week that all federal workers must be vaccinated or get tested for COVID-19 at least once a week.
During the press conference with Trudeau, Legault also announced that his province would be implementing a vaccine passport system in the coming weeks.
Canada's top health officials have warned that the country could be witnessing the start of a fourth wave driven by the more infectious delta variant.
During a press conference today, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam echoed Trudeau's plea for hesitant individuals to get vaccinated, saying it can help to prevent a pandemic resurgence that would overwhelm hospitals.
"I cannot stress strongly enough how every vaccination counts," she said.
"If you or someone you love haven't already, please book an appointment to get the first or second dose."
Of the entire population eligible to receive a vaccine, 81 per cent have received one dose and 66 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Trudeau dodges election question
Despite recent warnings of a fourth pandemic wave, the prime minister is widely expected to ask the Governor General to call an election in the coming weeks.
Trudeau was asked about election timing today but ducked the question, instead repeating his call for Canadians to get vaccinated.
"We continue to be focused on delivery for Canadians, getting us through this pandemic, making sure that people continue to get vaccinated," he said.
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"It is time, if you've been hesitant, to get your first dose, to book your second dose … the delta variant is posing real challenges."
During her press conference, Tam said that voting during the pandemic could be done safely.
"I think that safety protocols have been put in place for different elections throughout Canada during the last month, so I think that can continue to be provided," she said. "So I think that there's definitely ways to vote safely."
Tam said voters should cast mail-in ballots only if they feel they are at risk.
Elections Canada ready for mail-in ballots
Canada's chief electoral officer is warning Canadians that they may have to wait a few days to find out the final results of a mid-pandemic election.
Stephane Perrault told the Canadian Press that Elections Canada is ready for what could be a vast increase in the number of Canadians choosing to vote by mail during the pandemic. Elections officials anticipate up to five million voters could opt for mail-in ballots, compared to fewer than 50,000 in the 2019 election.
Perrault said mail-in ballots will not be counted until the day after the election — to allow them to be received right up to the last minute before polls close, and to give election officials time to ensure no one who voted by mail also cast a ballot in person.
"It's important for Canadians to understand that this is part of the plan of deliberate choices that we've made," Perrault said.
"It's not an accident. It's not a sign of things going wrong, but in fact is part of the process as we've designed it in these very unique circumstances of the pandemic."
With files from the Canadian Press
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