Today, the Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi, the Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications (FETCO) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) issued the following joint statement today regarding the role that vaccination can play in workplace health and safety:
“As we continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of workers in Canada remains a priority for the Government of Canada and employers. Canada has entered a very important phase of the pandemic, with safe and effective vaccines available to help prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19.
Vaccination plays a critical role in the prevention of COVID-19 among workers, their families and surrounding communities. That is why the Government of Canada, FETCO, and the CLC encourage all workers in Canada to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn to do so.
We also strongly encourage employers to accommodate employees who are receiving their first and/or second vaccinations, and those who may be experiencing post-vaccination symptoms. By removing barriers and establishing supportive policies and practices, employers can help increase vaccine uptake among workers. While employees may use their personal leave or medical leave under the Canada Labour Code to get a COVID-19 vaccine, workplace parties should continue to work together to protect workers, particularly front-line and essential workers, prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace, and ensure everyone gets vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Employers in federally regulated workplaces are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their employees at work. That is why we are calling for businesses and unions to take a proactive approach to better reach, equip and mobilize their employees and members to get vaccinated. The fastest way for Canadians and businesses to build back better is to take all steps to facilitate high vaccination rates.
The Government of Canada, FETCO, and the CLC will continue to work together to share tools and resources and do everything possible to support businesses and protect workers’ health and safety. The Government of Canada and some provincial and territorial governments are providing free rapid COVID-19 tests to organizations for regular workplace screening of close-contact employees. The use of rapid tests as a screening tool helps organizations to better protect their employees and customers, but it is not a substitute for other public health measures. Local public health authorities are available to provide guidance and support regarding measures or vaccines, and workplaces can visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety‘s website to find authoritative information and comprehensive resources on health and safety at work.
Lastly, it is important to remember that while COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out across Canada, we must continue to follow public health measures to keep ourselves and our families, workplaces and communities safe. Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.”