COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the federal workforce
October 8, 2021 - Defence Stories
*This message regarding vaccine requirements is directed to Defence Team public service employees. Additional guidance and information on vaccine requirements for CAF members, including dates and methods for attestation, will be communicated in the coming days.*
Public health authorities continue to advise that combined with the existing safety measures, vaccination is the most effective tool to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for Canadians.
As mentioned in our October 6 message, the Government of Canada is now requiring federal public service employees to be fully vaccinated. This includes members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Today, we are sharing details with you on the implementation of the vaccination requirement and what you can expect in the coming weeks. While this policy applies to Defence Team public service employees (including student, term, and casual employees), the Acting Chief of the Defence Staff will also issue a directive requiring vaccination for the Canadian Armed Forces. CAF members who supervise public service employees will need to be aware of this policy and understand their role in supporting its implementation.
Under a new Policy, all employees in the Core Public Administration must be vaccinated.
As an employee of the Department of National Defence, you must be fully vaccinated. The requirement to be vaccinated applies whether you are teleworking, working remotely, or working on-site at a federal government facility. Contractors will be required to submit a certification for all applicable contracts (contracts where they require access to federal government worksites where government employees are present) certifying that any personnel who will access federal government worksites will be fully vaccinated.
Managers (including Executives) are advised to access the PSPM App prior to October 15 and ensure reporting structures are up-to-date by claiming or releasing your direct reports in preparation. Here at National Defence, public service employees will start input of attestation information on October 15, 2021.
CAF members will have until October 29, 2021 to input their attestation into Monitor Mass with full compliance by November 15, 2021.
DND employees will need to have completed their attestation by October 29, 2021.
All personal information collected from employees on their vaccination status will be done in accordance with the Privacy Act, the Policy on Privacy Protection, and its related instruments. You can find more specific information on the collection and use of your personal information when you submit your attestation.
What does this mean for you?
If you're fully vaccinated:
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, federal public servants will need to confirm their vaccination status in the Government of Canada’s Vaccine Attestation Tracking System (GC-VATS). Employees and managers will need to be on the DWAN and have a PKI card to access GC-VATS. For employees who do not have the necessary IT assets (e.g. PKI Card) to access the GC-VATS system, an alternative attestation method will be available. Further details will be communicated shortly.
If they are already fully vaccinated, public servants can complete their attestation in GC-VATS (Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome are the recommended browsers) when it is available for our department on October 15, 2021. It will only take a few minutes to complete the attestation.
CAF members will be using Monitor Mass for their attestation. More information will be provided to members in the coming days.
If you are not fully vaccinated:
Eight-out-of-10 Canadians over age 12 are fully vaccinated. If you are not already fully vaccinated, we advise you to book your appointment as soon as possible.
Remember, in accordance with the Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements, public servants who work in the Core Public Administration and the RCMP can use “Time off for personal medical and dental appointments” (code 698) for both COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
Regardless of their vaccination status, public servants must complete an attestation in GC-VATS (Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome are the recommended browsers) by October 29. Public servants who do not attest to their vaccination status, or are unwilling to be vaccinated, will be placed on administrative leave without pay as of November 15.
The vast majority of Canadians are eligible to receive the vaccine. In the exceptional case that you are unable to be vaccinated due to a prohibited ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, you may request accommodation. Employees unable to be fully vaccinated, (with an approved request for accommodation) and who are required to report to work on-site, will require regular rapid testing (i.e. at least twice per week).
You have an obligation to provide a true attestation. Making a false statement would constitute a breach of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination. All attestation information is subject to verification and audit.
We understand that some people may have questions or want more information about COVID-19 vaccination. For this reason, employees who are not vaccinated and those who have not attested to their vaccination status by October 29 will be required to attend a training session on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, to ensure they have authoritative and accurate information on vaccine safety and benefits. We also encourage you to speak with your manager and your primary healthcare provider about any concerns or questions you may have.
More information about the government’s vaccination policy is available on the Vaccines in the public service page. Details on requirements and timing for Interchange Canada participants are being communicated to them directly.
Additional information will be communicated in the days and weeks ahead. If you have questions, please consult with your manager, visit the COVID-19 vaccination for federal public servants web page, or submit them to our Ask Anything: COVID-19 mailbox. Managers of civilian employees should familiarize themselves with their roles and responsibilities in support of this policy by visiting the COVID-19 vaccination for federal public service managers’ web page. Additional resources to support managers in communicating with their staff will be provided in the coming days.
For CAF members, additional details and guidance will be shared through an upcoming Directive on the CAF application of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
The physical and psychological health and safety of public servants remain an absolute priority for the Government of Canada. As we mark Mental Illness Awareness Week, we remind you of the wide range of services and supports available to both Defence Team public service employees and CAF members listed on the COVID-19: Continuing Work Helpful Links & Resources web page.
To those of you who are already fully vaccinated, thank you for doing everything you can to protect yourselves, protect your families and colleagues, and protect the communities you live in by reducing the risk of COVID-19. If you are not yet fully vaccinated, don’t delay. Join the overwhelming majority of Canadians who have received the vaccine and get vaccinated.
General Wayne Eyre
Deputy Minister of National Defence
Acting Chief of the Defence Staff
For public service employees and their families requiring support during this time, there are a number of services available to you:
- Employee Assistance Program, 1-800-268-7708
- EAP Peer Advisors: Call 1-833-747-6363 to be connected with a readily available colleague who can provide confidential active-listening skills and resources to employees in need.
- LifeSpeak: A web-based service that offers free confidential access to hundreds of short videos by experts on a variety issues.
CAF members and their families in need of assistance can access:
- the Member Assistance Program at 1-800-268-7708; or
- the Family Information Line at 1-800-866-4546.
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