MPs and anyone else who wants to enter the House of Commons precinct will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 effective with the planned Nov. 22 opening of Parliament, the Speaker says.
Anthony Rota, the Speaker and chair of the Board of Internal Economy, which manages Parliament and includes members of various parties, announced the plan on Tuesday evening in a statement.
The requirement applies to MPs, their staff, political research office employees, administration employees, journalists and others, according to the statement, which was released after a board meeting.
Individuals are deemed fully vaccinated against COVID-19 14 days after they receive the recommended doses of vaccines, the statement said.
People with medical reasons for not being fully vaccinated will be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The statement did not mention any option to attend remotely, or say if the requirement will apply to the Senate.
The statement said details are still being developed. It noted that decisions were made to meet recommendations from public-health authorities to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.
MPs are returning to Parliament after the Sept. 20 federal election, in which the Liberals won a minority government.
The Liberals and Bloc Québécois in particular favour vaccination for MPs. New Democrat MP Charlie Angus called the announcement “a no-brainer” in a tweet on Tuesday night. “Glad to see that politicians are not being given a free ride while other Canadians are doing their part to limit the spread of the virus,” he wrote.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has declined to say how many of his party’s MPs are vaccinated, maintaining that alternatives such as rapid testing should be available to those who don’t want to get the shots.
Mark Strahl, the MP for Chilliwack-Hope in British Columbia, has declared that the party should fight vaccination requirements for MPs.
In an Oct. 8 tweet, Mr. Strahl wrote: “Justin Trudeau’s vaccine mandate is discriminatory, coercive and must be opposed. We must continue to demand reasonable exemptions and accommodations, like rapid testing, for those unable or unwilling to be vaccinated.”
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office last week said one of the first orders of business would be working with all parties to ensure all MPs in the House of Commons are fully vaccinated.
The statement said Canadians expect their elected representatives to lead by example, and the Prime Minister would raise the issue with other leaders.
Before the Speaker’s statement, Official Opposition spokesperson Josie Sabatino said that, in a conference call scheduled for Wednesday, Mr. O’Toole will tell the Prime Minister to stop using vaccines as a political wedge.
Mr. Trudeau is speaking to Mr. O’Toole as part of a round of calls with opposition leaders on priorities before Parliament resumes on Nov. 22.
Ms. Sabatino said Mr. O’Toole planned to tell Mr. Trudeau that Conservatives will put forward ideas to reduce and address vaccine hesitancy in Canada in the coming weeks.
On another issue, Ms. Sabatino said Mr. O’Toole planned to press Mr. Trudeau to stop the Canada Recovery Benefit by the end of November to address a labour shortage. The CRB, introduced last September to replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, provides individuals with $300 a week, although the actual payment is $270 after a 10-per-cent withholding tax.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau spoke with Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, and the Prime Minister’s Office said Mr. Trudeau will talk on Wednesday with Mr. O’Toole, Green Party MP Elizabeth May and federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
The Prime Minister’s Office has said a gender-balanced cabinet will be announced on Oct. 26.
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