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Canadian Employers Facing Labor Shortage, Businesses Struggle to Keep Vaccine Mandate

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The tight labor market in Canada has forced many businesses to conduct regular COVID-19 testing to comply with vaccine mandates. Some are changing the previously announced requirements for injection even with the increase in the number of Omicron variant cases.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration has implemented one of the sternest vaccination policies around the globe for civil servants. The government has already placed more than 1,000 employees on leave without pay, and thousands more are in danger, a report said.

Police forces, airlines, school boards, and Canada’s Big Five banks have also promised to enforce strict vaccination policies. But implementing the policy has been difficult, particularly as employers face staff shortages and workers seek exemptions.

Job availabilities in Canada have doubled this year, government data suggests, and mandates on vaccines could make filling them more difficult, putting an upward strain on wage levels. This could increase inflation that is already almost two-decade high.

“It’s already difficult to find staff, let alone putting in a vaccine mandate. You’d cut out potentially another 20%” of potential workers, said Dan Kelly, chief executive of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

There are some risks to hiring people who have not been vaccinated. Businesses are at a greater chance of outbreaks, and many employees who have been vaccinated are not comfortable working with employees who haven’t had the vaccination, according to marketing and industry associations.

Data released on Friday last week underscored Canada’s labor market, with 153,700 jobs created last month. Also, it revealed a rising gap between the number of available workers and jobs that are not filled. The number of job ads is way higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The province of Quebec has retracted its decision to introduce a vaccination mandate for healthcare workers in November, claiming they could not afford to lose thousands of unvaccinated workers. Ontario, which was also considering a mandate, announced it was not going to proceed.

Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal have relaxed their vaccination policies to permit regular tests for those who did not meet their October 31 vaccination deadline.

In Canada, 86 percent of adults are fully protected. However, this drops to less than 80 percent among the 18-40-year-olds.

Last week, 15 latest Omicron cases in Canada were reported.

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