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Air Canada's strict new employee vaccine policy could set new workplace bar: experts

Last Updated Aug 27, 2021 at 10:24 am MDT

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

CALGARY — Air Canada won’t offer rapid testing as an alternative to employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The airline says it will require all employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 30. Those who don’t have a valid reason for not having their shots could be fired.

Most companies that have said they’ll require employees to get the jab are giving unvaccinated employees the option of submitting to regular COVID-19 testing instead.


But experts say Air Canada’s tougher stance could set a new bar.

Employment lawyer Chantel Goldsmith says Air Canada’s policy is legal.

However, the airline must accommodate those who have a medical condition or other valid reason for not having their shots.


All of Canada’s federally regulated industries, including airlines, must come up with plans to get their workers vaccinated by the end of October.

WestJet and Transat say they are still developing their employee vaccination policies.

But the pilots’ union for those airlines has told its members it rejects threats of termination based on vaccine status.