End of Commons vaccine mandate under discussion: Hollande
MPs discuss the possibility of lifting the House of Commons vaccination mandate, after the federal government announced that its COVID-19 vaccination requirements for the public service and for domestic and outbound Canadian travelers will take end next week.
According to Government House Leader Mark Holland on Tuesday, House leaders from each party met to discuss the idea, and now the topic is being discussed within each caucus.
« We had a productive conversation yesterday, » Holland told reporters on Parliament Hill on Wednesday. « We are going to have further conversations and hopefully, certainly in the next few days, we can finalize what we are going to do with the enclosure. »
A vaccination mandate requiring anyone entering the precincts of the House of Commons – including MPs – to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has been in place since the first day of the 44th Parliament in November 2021.
The decision to impose the mandate was taken by the Board of Internal Economy – the cross-party committee of MPs that oversees the operation of the House of Commons – at a time when considerable attention was being paid to the vaccination status of MPs.
Although the Speaker of the House of Commons later found that the council had overstepped the imposition of the mandate, the policy was confirmed by a motion supported by the Liberals and the NDP.
The Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Québécois have said all of their MPs are fully vaccinated, and while many Tories have confirmed their vaccination status, the party has not revealed how many of its MPs are still unvaccinated.
The policy includes a limited exemption, allowing people who have verified a ‘medical contraindication’ to COVID-19 vaccines to provide proof of a recent negative rapid antigen test to gain entry to buildings that are part of the compound. of the House.
On June 3, Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall, who declined to disclose her vaccination status, said she had been escorted off Parliament Hill as part of the House’s vaccination policy.
It is possible that in addition to a decision on the future of the vaccine mandate for the House of Commons – the Senate has its own – there could soon be an update on the future of the hybrid arrangements of Parliament, as they are about to expire at the end of spring sitting on June 23rd.
Current rules allow MPs to participate virtually in House debates and committee meetings. The House has also introduced a remote voting app that allows MPs to vote virtually from anywhere in Canada.
The Tories have pushed to end the House’s vaccination mandate, as well as the hybrid Commons proceedings that MPs have adhered to for most of the pandemic.
In a statement in late May proposing a way to move away from the hybrid sitting structure, Conservative House Leader John Brassard said that given the current public health situation and the impact the virtual structure has had on translators , it’s time to stop letting MPs zoom in on work. .
“We should never have arrived at a place where some elected members of Parliament are not allowed to set foot in the Chamber, while some Liberal MPs refuse to come to the capital at all,” Brassard said. “Canadians elect their representatives to serve them in Ottawa, not to hide behind a computer screen or a voting application. Canadians are returning to work in person. It’s time for MPs to do the same. »
On Tuesday, when the announcement was made that other federal mandates were set to expire, Holland said the Liberals’ position was that they would modify their COVID-19 restrictions as the public health situation evolved.