CANADA POLITICS Transport Minister Algabra says airport delays did not affect...

Transport Minister Algabra says airport delays did not affect decision on vaccine mandate

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Vaccination requirements for plane and train travel will be lifted tomorrow, and the decision to ease restrictions was not prompted by airport delays, which Toronto Pearson is particularly concerned about, Transportation Minister Omar Algabra said.

“I can tell you that the decision we made was not related to airport delays,” Algabra said in an interview. Rosemary Barton live which aired on Sunday. The government has labeled the shift as a “suspension,” noting that mandates could be reintroduced if the trend of the COVID-19 pandemic changes.

Algabra noted that airport delays are partly due to a labor shortage among airlines and an increase in the number of Canadians traveling. He argued that delays had improved in recent times due to procedural changes and the hiring of more reviewers.

“I’m not saying that there are no problems now, but we have seen significant improvements over the past few weeks,” he said.

The suspension of the vaccination mandate affects travel within the country. Foreign travelers entering Canada must still be fully vaccinated or eligible for a vaccination exemption. Testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers will also remain in place. The suspension also removes vaccination requirements for federal employees and transportation workers.

Algabra told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton that the decision was the result of a lengthy process to determine whether the measures could be safely lifted given evidence of vaccination and transmission.

“We wanted to be careful. We want it to be safe. And we want to make sure we have the right tools before we continue,” he said.

Mandates may return if the situation changes

The government claims that the two-dose vaccination regimen has less of an impact on transmission today, given the advent of the Omicron variant. The government has decided not to add a third dose to the definition of what they consider “full vaccination.”

Earlier this week, Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs Dominique Leblanc said the government “wouldn’t hesitate” to potentially make this change if the epidemiological situation required it. Just under half of all Canadians have received at least one booster dose.

Algabra also said the government would make changes to the mandate system as needed.

WATCH | Minister for Intergovernmental Relations on changes to travel restrictions:

Ottawa deliberately took its time to cancel vaccination mandates for domestic travel, the minister for intergovernmental affairs said.

“We deliberately chose to be careful. We consciously decided not to rush. We’re not going to apologize for that.” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominique LeBlanc on why Ottawa has so far been waiting to suspend vaccination mandates for domestic travel.

“I hope we never have to return it. But for now, given the evidence and the current public health situation that we have, we felt comfortable that it was time to put it on hold.”

The government said transmission was one of several factors that were taken into account in the decision.

Conservatives have called for the abolition of travel vaccination mandates. MP Ron Lipert said earlier this week that change “can’t happen soon enough.” The Conservatives also welcomed the news that the proof of vaccination in the House of Commons will end on Monday and mask mandates will be canceled on June 23 (the last day of possible sittings before the summer break).

Algabra also outlined how COVID-19 testing will work when the temporary suspension of mandatory random testing expires at the end of June. Randomly selected arriving travelers will receive a testing kit that they can complete at home under the supervision of a healthcare professional, while unvaccinated travelers will be tested at a facility near the airport.

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