Defence department website tells employees vaccine mandates not legal

As Justin Trudeau pushes for mandatory vaccination of federal public servants and those working in federally regulated sectors, a Department of National Defence web page tells employees that while vaccination is encouraged, management “cannot require a public servant to get a vaccine, nor is mandatory vaccination supported under Canadian law.”

Assurances that the COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary have been on the web page since at least March, a review of archived versions shows. However, as the website has been updated over the course of the year, more information about employees’ rights has been added.

On Wednesday, a section was added to the top of the page notifying Department of National Defence staff and enlisted Canadian Armed Forces members of the government’s forthcoming vaccine mandate, but the former information – which says such a mandate is unlawful – remains in place.

This comes one day after Trudeau said at a Markham, Ont. campaign stop that there would be “consequences” for federal employees who refuse to get vaccinated, though he declined to say what these would be.