The federal government is expected to share more details Tuesday about its plans to suspend the requirement that domestic and outbound international travellers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
This change will allow unvaccinated Canadians to board domestic, or international planes, trains, and busses leaving the country, but it’s expected they will still be required to quarantine upon re-entry.
Senior government sources have told CTV News that foreign nationals coming to Canada will still be required to be vaccinated, and that the change in policy will come into effect as early as Wednesday.
It remains to be seen what other changes could be coming, including potentially around the use of the ArriveCAN application and whether the lifting of mandates will extend to the federal public service.
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill this morning, it’s likely the announcement will be made afterwards.
The federal mandates requiring all passengers on planes or trains to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding were first promised by the Liberals during the last federal election, and came into effect in October 2021.
In recent months, pressure has been mounting for the government to lift the travel vaccination requirements from opposition politicians and the travel industry, citing the significant strains and delays at Canadian airports, as well as the easing provincial public health rules.
Last week the government halted its mandatory random testing of vaccinated travellers at airports, but maintained the requirement for any unvaccinated travellers to be swabbed.
Throughout these calls, the Liberals have defended the mandates, repeatedly referring to the need to follow the science and advice of public health officials.
On his way into Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Chief Government Whip Steven MacKinnon was asked on what basis the government has now decided to do away with these travel requirements, he said he’d leave that for Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos to answer later.
“We’re observing, of course, a marked decline in the number of cases, and therefore in the threat to public health. And so I think it’s time to move on from some of these measures. They are being suspended of course, they could come back. The pandemic is not over, but it is now time to — we think — soften up some of the measures that are in place,” MacKinnon said.
In order to be considered fully vaccinated under the federal policy, people have had to show proof of a full vaccination series, but not a booster dose, despite calls from public health officials to make a third dose part of the requirement to better protect against severe illness.
With files from CTV News’ Glen McGregor and Mackenzie Gray