Canada makes COVID vaccines mandatory in House of Commons

The new requirement will apply to members of the House and their staff, but also to office workers, journalists, contractors and consultants.

In this file photo taken on 24 March 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 situation in Canada from his residence in Ottawa, Canada. Picture: AFP.

MONTREAL - Canadian parliamentarians will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to serve in the House of Commons starting in late November, Speaker Anthony Rota said Tuesday night.

"Effective Monday, November 22, 2021, individuals must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed within the House of Commons Precinct," he said in a statement.

The new requirement will apply to members of the House and their staff, but also to office workers, journalists, contractors and consultants.

The directive comes about a month after an election campaign in which mandatory vaccinations were hotly debated.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced last week that his cabinet will be unveiled on 26 October and that Parliament will reconvene on 22 November, had spoken out in favour of a vaccine mandate for Liberal candidates.

Other political parties have followed suit, but Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole has not made vaccination a criterion for candidate selection and refuses to say how many candidates are vaccinated.

In the 20 September election, his party won 119 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons.

Rota's statement said that people who cannot receive the COVID vaccine for medical reasons will have the option of submitting a "recent negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test result".

In addition, the Canadian Parliament remains closed to visitors, and the requirement to wear a mask has been extended until January 2022.

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