LILLEY: Trudeau’s mandatory vaccination policy a mess

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Confusion seems to be the main result of the push for a “mandatory” vaccination policy for federal workers.

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For many federal employees, the mandate won’t apply at all. For some that it does apply to, the exemptions and requirements are quite loose, while subcontractors face strict requirements.

Last week, I wrote about problems in the federal vaccine mandate announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Oct. 6.

“If you want to continue working for the public service of Canada, you’re going to need to be fully vaccinated,” Trudeau said as he announced his plan.

It turns out where you work in the federal public service and how you are employed has a great bearing on how the policy applies to you.

If you work for Finance Canada, for example, the vaccine mandate applies to you. However, it does not apply to anyone employed by the Canada Revenue Agency.

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You read that right, this mandate doesn’t apply to any agency considered separate from the government, including CRA, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Parks Canada, and many other organizations employing tens of thousands of federal workers.

Inside the core public administration — where the mandate does apply — the way it will be administered differs as well.

If you are a full-time federal worker, then you only have to sign an attestation that you have been vaccinated rather than show proof — like the certificate you need to show to enter any restaurant around Parliament Hill. Yet, if you are a contract worker through one of the many staffing agencies which fill positions in the federal government, you will likely be required to show proof of vaccination rather than an attestation.

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One contract employee placed with the federal government through an employment agency shared the requirements to stay employed. It included submitting proof of vaccination or a valid exemption and a form granting the agency permission to share the information with the federal government.

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Contractors hired to work in federal buildings, such as cleaners, are being told they need to show proof to work in those facilities even though the employees in those buildings may only need to swear an attestation or not be required to be vaccinated at all — see Canada Revenue Agency.

Oh, and employees of the House of Commons and Senate are exempt from the vaccine mandate — just like MPs and Senators.

Is all of that as clear as mud?

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Against that backdrop, a group of federal public servants is petitioning Trudeau to drop his vaccine mandate, calling the move unconstitutional. They also claim the vaccine mandate amounts to criminal extortion and intimidation under the Criminal Code.

They also invoke the Nuremberg Code developed after the Second World War in response to the Holocaust and the use of human experimentation by the Nazis.

Despite garnering the support of more than 3,000 people on their Facebook page and putting forward some other valid arguments questioning the usefulness of the vaccine mandate for federal civil servants, this group won’t gain any traction with tactics like that.

  1. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leave a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, October 6, 2021.

    LILLEY: Trudeau’s rhetoric says mandatory vaccinations, his HR policy says otherwise

  2. In this file photograph taken on June 29, 2021, a medical official holds a vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine

    LILLEY: Trudeau’s vaccine policy isn’t mandatory, it’s actually the same as O’Toole’s

  3. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits a vaccination site, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Montreal, July 15, 2021.

    LILLEY: Trudeau’s mandatory vaccination plan all about politics, not health

Bottom line, the federal policy is a mess, as I have been telling you it would be ever since Trudeau announced it during the election.

It was never a well-thought-out plan backed up by data; it was always a haphazard political tool to win the election.

Most people won’t look at the details — they will simply see Trudeau is doing something.

Whether what he’s doing is useful for a workforce that is already mostly vaccinated and working from home remains to be seen.

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