The CEO of a Canadian airline is on board with a timeline for the implementation of new mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies in the transportation sector, adding it will help build confidence among passengers.
“It gives a clear path, a clear direction,” Flair Airlines CEO Stephen Jones said in an interview. Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday.
“It’s really going to build trust back in the industry, and clearly it’s sorely needed,” the head of Discount Carriers told businesshala’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton. Jones said that after a “stunning summer” for his company, the return of high COVID-19 cases and the changing weather means bookings have become “loosen”.
The federal government this week announced a series of new mandatory vaccination policies. Some cover the “main” public service, while others target the transportation sector. Starting October 30, all workers in the federally regulated transportation sector will be required to be vaccinated.
Similarly, all passengers departing from Canadian airports and VIA Rail or Rocky Mountaineer passenger trains will need to be vaccinated by the end of this month.
Jones said how exactly the rules will be implemented is still a work in progress, but it will involve uploading vaccine certificates during the booking process before they are checked by an employee prior to boarding.
“We are ready to be at the gate for this,” he said, comparing the existing checks for identification.
Jones also said that passengers who board flights but do not meet vaccination criteria will not be given a refund similar to ID requirements.
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“Travellers know the rules, and they will need to be followed,” he said.
Jones also said he was confident the system could be in time for the end of the month deadline. “We can move on quickly.”
Policies can promote travel: Minister
Security checks at airports, a rough indication of the level of air travel, have increased throughout this year as restrictions have been eased and vaccination rates in Canada have improved. But they are still significantly lower than in the pre-pandemic world.
With only a few weeks left for the policy to take effect, really quick action will be required. Part of the key to streamlining the process is an ongoing effort to create national, standardized vaccine certifications. The federal government is “working diligently with the provinces” on that issue, Transport Minister Omar Alghbra told Barton on Sunday.
He said it is hoped that the policy will achieve three goals: ensuring a safe workplace, encouraging vaccination and restoring confidence in travel.
“I know individuals who were eager to travel, but were worried about boarding a plane because they weren’t sure they could contract COVID,” Alghbra said.
Earlier on Sunday, Northwest Territories Health Minister Julie Green said the federal mandate could help encourage people in the region – which is facing a spike in cases – to get vaccinated.
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Speaking Saturdays on businesshala HouseNew Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs expressed hope that a standardized, national vaccine certification could be implemented rapidly. New Brunswick implemented a provincial ban on gatherings with people outside individual homes.
Alghbra said talks are ongoing with the provinces surrounding the certificate because they have vaccination data, and negotiations are needed to ensure a standardized approach.
Politics of Vaccine Mandate | at issue
Canada is one of several countries making vaccination mandatory for at least some part of the population. The United States announced last month that federal employees and employees of companies with more than 100 people would be required to be vaccinated.
Asked whether Canada’s recent announcement should have been implemented faster, FLARE’s Stephen Jones said, “There aren’t many good examples of governments and countries that have already sorted this out.”
He continued, “I think Canada has done a great job in getting vaccination levels up to world-leading areas. And so all we need to do now is follow through and get the world moving again.”