Feds spent $200 million to enforce vaccine mandate for government employees

According to an Inquiry of Ministry, most government employees received the COVID jab before Ottawa enforced its $200 million vaccine mandate. The Trudeau Liberals lifted the mandate on June 20, 2022, which affected 2,560 employees who were suspended without pay.

Feds spent $200 million to enforce vaccine mandate for government employees
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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Most government employees received the COVID jab before Ottawa enforced its $200 million vaccine mandate, according to an Inquiry of Ministry.

Treasury Board President Anita Anand told Parliament that her predecessor approved $198.6 million for "legal services" pertaining to the mandate. She did not elaborate, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

"Total authorities available for the Policy On Covid-19 Vaccination for the core public administration including the RCMP were $85.7 million and $112.9 million in 2021 and 2022 respectively," Anand wrote in an Inquiry Of Ministry tabled in the Commons.

Conservative MP Ted Falk requested the figures, asking for the total costs associated with implementing the vaccine requirement. Opposition MPs called the expense exorbitant. 

"The Treasury Board website shows there are about 3,400 unvaccinated employees," Conservative MP Kelly McCauley told the Commons in 2021. That amounts to $24,000 per employee for rapid testing or $19.2 million.

"At $24,000 per employee, who is providing these rapid tests? Is it SNC-Lavalin?" asked McCauley. The federal government did not reply.

The Government of Canada announced on October 6, 2021, that all CPA employees, including the RCMP, must be vaccinated. The requirement also applied to employees working remotely, as well as government contractors.

The Treasury Board later threatened federal employees, including the RCMP and military personnel, with unpaid suspensions and dismissals for failure to comply with the mandate. The order applied to 275,983 employees, effective November 15, 2021. 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, internal memos conveyed that 95% of employees already received the jab before the threat of unemployment had been issued. Nearly 1,400 federal workers went on unpaid leave due to their refusal to get the COVID jab, according to a separate but related government inquiry.

The Treasury Board said 1,382 employees within the CPA and the RCMP had been placed on Leave Without Pay (LWOP) in accordance with the policy, as of February 1, 2022.

The feds only approved 250 of 1,155 medical accommodations, as well as 315 of 2,037 religious accommodations, and 26 of 431 requests on other prohibited grounds of discrimination.

The Trudeau Liberals lifted the federal vaccine mandate on June 20, 2022, which affected 2,560 unvaccinated employees who were suspended without pay.

"I want to start by thanking all the public servants who stepped up and got vaccinated to make sure we could continue to fight through this pandemic and to make sure the health and safety of Canadians was our first priority," then-Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said in suspending the mandate.

The federal government previously acknowledged their vaccine mandate in the transportation sector as overly "aggressive" in denying travel to nearly six million Canadians by air and train.

"For the system to operate efficiently for the majority and handle all the exceptional circumstances," said the internal memo A Vaccine Mandate For The Transportation Sector, "keep exemptions to strict vaccine mandates simple to avoid complexity and costly administrative burden for operators and travellers."

Instead, the Department of Transportation conveyed it must act "quickly and aggressively," noting the mandate "would make Canada unique in the world in terms of strict vaccine mandates for domestic travel."

The federal government maintains their approach was backed by science, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. "It followed the recommendations of public health experts, doctors and scientists," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on September 26, 2022.

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