Yesterday, Treasury Board announced it will suspend vaccine mandates for public servants as of Monday June 20, 2021.
What this means
- public servants who are on administrative leave without pay for noncompliance with the policy in force until now will be contacted by their managers to arrange their return to regular work duties;
- as of June 20, persons will no longer be required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment; and,
- the Government of Canada is no longer moving forward with proposed regulations under Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code to make vaccination mandatory in all federally regulated workplaces.
Public servants on leave without pay
Treasury Board said that as of May 30, “2,108 federal employees, or less than 2%, were on administrative leave without pay, as a result of declining to disclose their vaccination status or because they were unwilling to be vaccinated with two doses. These employees can now resume regular work duties with pay.”
Public servants who made requests for accommodations
Treasury Board also said that as of May 30, there were 2,598 requests for accommodations in relation to the mandatory vaccination policy.
The breakdown of requests was as follows:
- For medical reasons: 654
- For religious reasons: 1,659
- For other reasons: 285
As of May 30, 993 requests for accommodation had been deemed eligible and 699 remained under consideration.
The breakdown of accommodations deemed eligible was as follows:
- For medical reasons: 310
- For religious reasons: 642
- For other reasons: 41
Treasury Board said that, “with the suspension of the policy on vaccination, accommodation measures that were put in place as a result of the vaccination policy, as well as any reviews of remaining accommodation requests, will end.”
Looking ahead to the fall
However, the President of the Treasury Board, Mona Fortier, cautioned that the public service would “not hesitate to make adjustments based on the latest public health advice and science to keep Canadians safe. This could include the reimposition of public service vaccination mandates, and the introduction of vaccination mandates in federally regulated workplaces in the fall, if needed.”
Public Service Alliance of Canada
One of the largest federal public service unions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) said that, “the federal government did not consult with PSAC before making its decision to lift its vaccination policy” and that, “unions should always be consulted on policies that have a major impact on the terms and conditions of employment of our members to protect their health and safety and their rights in the workplace.”
Despite this, PSAC said that, “as public health guidelines have been lifted across the country, we’ve been urging the government to review and update their vaccination policy for federal workers.”
Canadian Association of Professional Employees
Another union, the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (or CAPE) also put out a statement saying that, “CAPE is caught by surprise, as there were no consultations with bargaining agents before the announcement. The sudden and abrupt change from one extreme to the other without a clear and sound transition plan is unsettling. CAPE will push for prudent and realistic transition measures that consider foreseeable safety risks.”
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) also responded, “Unfortunately, this information was shared with the PIPSC President through the media before the employer informed us of the change. We, together with other unions, have been asking for an update for weeks. We have informed the Treasury Board of our disappointment and hope that collaboration will be a priority moving forward.”
Despite this, the PIPSC statement said, “This is a welcome update from the employer as we have been pushing for this policy to reflect the current status of the pandemic.”
All unions said they filed grievances against the mandatory vaccination policy for members who were placed on leave without pay and will continue to pursue those grievances.
Feds for Freedom
There has been no response so far by “Feds for Freedom,” the campaign started last fall by public servants against the mandatory vaccination policy.