Ottawa announced Tuesday it is suspending its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for air and rail travellers with infections rapidly declining across Canada, taking effect on June 20.
The government also announced it is pausing its vaccine mandate for employees in the public service, and will no longer require employees in the federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors to be fully vaccinated.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates Pearson Airport, sent a statement to Global News earlier Tuesday amid reports the changes were set to be announced.
“The removal of vaccination requirements for domestic and outbound travel is a step in the right direction,” the statement said.
GTAA said the lifting of the vaccine mandates will also help with staffing shortages, which the authority has said is one of the main reasons behind long delays often being faced by passengers recently.
“While vaccination rates have been high throughout the Toronto Pearson worker community during the pandemic, there are hundreds of workers across the Pearson ecosystem who are sitting on the sidelines due to this policy, and in a situation where we could use every trained and able body to support our recovery, this represents a very positive development,” the statement said.
“Of course, there is more that can and should be done to address the delays that airports are facing, including moving all health checks outside the airport.”
Dominic LeBlanc, minister of intergovernmental affairs, infrastructure and communities, said the government is prepared to bring back the measures “if the situation takes a turn for the worse.”
— With files from Aaron D’Andrea, Amanda Connolly and Ryan Kessler