‘People are ready to move forward’: EIA welcomes news of vaccine mandate for travellers

EDMONTON — The Edmonton International Airport (EIA) welcomed news of a vaccine mandate from the federal government.

According to the federal mandate announced Friday, Canadians looking to travel by air, rail, or boat this fall will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October.

“Health, safety and security are our top priorities and that of course includes the health and safety of our employees,” Steve Maybee, EIA vice president operations and infrastructure, said in a statement to CTV News Edmonton.

In addition to travellers, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra shared they expect Crown corporations and federally-regulated agencies, like Canada Post and the Bank of Canada, to also implement vaccine mandates.

The pair of ministers also noted it will require employees in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation space to be fully immunized against the virus.

“We have seen how devastating COVID-19 has been to our transportation and tourism sectors. We must protect the hard-won gains made by Canadians. Canadians deserve to feel confident when traveling that the environment around them is safe,” Alghabra said. “We need to regain public confidence in travel.”

The federal government said accommodations for those who cannot be vaccinated, like enhanced testing and screening,  will be implemented alongside the mandatory vaccinations.

Maybee added that the airport is waiting for further information from Transport Canada about the details of the vaccine directive.

“We will work to implement any federal regulation that it puts in place,” he said. “Our first step will be engaging our employees and working with them to help everyone understand what may be required.

“We have already publicly supported vaccination drives to help the travel and tourism sector recovery from the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

Once further information is made available, Maybee said the airport will do what it can to help educate passengers and employees about federal requirements.

DESIRE TO GET BACK TO NEW NORMAL

Jeffrey Sunquist, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, said mandatory vaccines for travellers and vaccine passports will likely be something the business community in the city will support.

“We’ve been a strong advocate of whatever mechanism will enable the economy to get back on track,” Sunquist said. “Whether that is a vaccination passport which can provide consumer and business confidence in having a health work place and being able to have people travel.

“We need an efficient means to move people and goods.”

The main concern for him is getting tourists back to Edmonton to help drive foot traffic throughout the city, its businesses, events, and attractions.

“The visitor economy is exceptionally important for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region,” Sunquist said. “Whether it is sporting events, conventions, these things all require confident consumers, businesses, and promoters so we can get people back in market.

“There’s a desire to get back to whatever the new normal is,” he added. “People are ready to move forward, but doing forward in a very pragmatic and safe way.”

With files from CTV News’ Sarah Turnball

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