Air Canada Says Unvaccinated Employees Could Lose Their Jobs

Air Canada has announced it will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees and that those who do not comply risk losing their jobs.

The Montreal-based airline said all employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 30. It will also make full vaccination a condition of employment for any new hires.

"Under the mandatory vaccination policy, testing will not be offered as an alternative," the airline said in a news release issued on Wednesday, August 25.

"While Air Canada will fulfil its duties to accommodate employees who for valid reasons, such as medical conditions, cannot be vaccinated, failure to be fully vaccinated by October 30, 2021 will have consequences up to and including unpaid leave or termination, except for those who qualify for accommodation."

Air Canada said that its mandate "is another initiative to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees and customers."

"Air Canada remains committed to the continued development and application of new safety measures and processes as they become available that are effective and convenient for customers," the airline added. "Such measures are vital to the safe restart of the air transport industry which, apart from enabling Canadians to travel freely, is also an essential driver of economic activity in Canada."

The airline said its mandate was in accord with a recent announcement by the Canadian government requiring employees in federally-regulated air, rail and marine transportation to be vaccinated by the end of October.

Canada will also soon require all commercial air travelers, as well as passengers on interprovincial trains and cruise ships, to be vaccinated.

Earlier this month, United Airlines announced that all 67,000 of its employees must show proof of vaccination by October 25 or five weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants full approval to one of the coronavirus vaccines—whichever comes first. The FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine on Monday.

Those United Airlines staff who are already vaccinated or are in the process of receiving the vaccine would be offered an additional day of pay if they provide proof of vaccination before September 20.

Three other major U.S. airlines—Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines—have said they will not mandate vaccines for their workers.

Delta announced on Wednesday that unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company's health care plan will face a $200 monthly surcharge if they do not get vaccinated. The airline said this was calculated based on the average hospital stay for COVID-19 patients, which has cost the company $40,000 per employee.

Air Canada
An Air Canada worker waits for travelers at a nearly-empty O'Hare International Airport on April 2, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images