2021 Federal Election: COVID-19 policy, explained

The past two years have been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic — and the policies guiding Canadians in the midst of this crisis.

COVID-19 policy has been discussed by all major political parties, with proposals for action ranging from bolstering Canadian vaccine research and domestic production to party stances on “vaccine passports.” To help students stay informed, The Ubyssey compiled the most topical points pertaining to COVID-19 policy from the four main political parties.

Liberal party


If elected, the Liberals will make vaccinations mandatory for federal public service workers as well as travellers on commercial flights and “other federally regulated vessels.” The party also detailed that they are working with Crown corporations and workplaces that are federally regulated to “prioritiz[e]” employee vaccination.

The Liberals support provincial requirements for proof of vaccination documentation. To assist provinces and territories who choose to make this documentation a requirement for use of non-essential services, they will invest $1 billion in a “COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Fund.”

The fund will cover costs tied to the planning and implementation of proof of vaccination documentation requirements and will be allocated on a “per capita basis.” The origin of these funds was not mentioned in the platform.

The Liberals also promised to push for legislation that will protect businesses from legal action if they impose this requirement.

Following the distribution of vaccines for free over the past nine months, the Liberals have committed to making vaccines against new variants and COVID-19 booster shots free for Canadians as well.

Coming out of the pandemic

In the effort to better understand the long-term consequences of COVID-19, the Liberals pledge to invest $100 million in a wide-scale study of its effects.

The Liberal platform did not make any new promises regarding the domestic manufacturing of vaccines or personal protective equipment (PPE), but it emphasized the previous action taken. The party highlighted Canada’s Bio-manufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy that they implemented in 2021 to increase vaccine manufacturing in Canada.

Conservative party


Instead of mandating vaccines, the Conservative platform commits to introducing rapid testing measures for unvaccinated Canadians.

The party has promised to implement rapid testing for all who enter Canada regardless of vaccination status. Entry into Canada will be prohibited for travellers originating from “hotspots” of new variants.

The Conservatives also aim to increase the number of rapid tests available to provinces, “accelerate Health Canada approvals” for rapid tests that have been approved by other countries and make-at-home COVID-19 tests “readily available” — although it is unclear what this means.

Like the Liberals, the Conservatives have promised to make booster shots for Canadians a priority. They also pledge to support the provinces in the delivery and distribution of vaccines and booster shots.

Coming out of the pandemic

“Homegrown” development, research and manufacturing of vaccines in Canada was promised to be “accelerated” under Conservative leadership. The domestic production and stockpiling of PPE is also detailed in the platform, with tariffs on imported PPE being proposed.

The Global Public Health Intelligence Network — which was previously shutdown under Liberal leadership in May 2019 — was emphasized in the Conservative platform as a means to “strengthen the sharing of public health intelligence across the federal government and with the provinces and territories.” The party also aims to establish a “threat-level warning system” that will perform risk assessments on new viruses of interest.

New Democratic Party (NDP)


Like the Liberals, the NDP support mandatory vaccinations for federal workers with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pushing for hard deadlines to implement the practice.

In an August 2021 press release, Singh said that federal employees who do not wish to be vaccinated for non-health-related reasons may be subject to the “progressive discipline process” outlined in the worker’s collective agreement — which may include termination. He said that disciplinary measures would be done as a “last resort” but may be “necessary in rare cases.”

The New Democrats have also committed to invest $1 billion to give Canadians paid time-off as they get their vaccinations and facilitate efforts to increase the vaccination rates in rural areas and vaccine-hesitant groups, according to Singh at a September 2021 press conference. However, the origin of the funds for this investment was not disclosed.

Coming out of the pandemic

The NDP platform has committed to the domestic manufacturing of PPE and vaccines, promising to “expand critical domestic manufacturing capacity” for PPE, pharmaceuticals and vaccines. It also pledges to “stockpile” PPE.

Green party


Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said that vaccines are “vital” but “questioned the motives” of the Liberals making vaccine mandates a political topic during this election.

She also criticized the lack of details in the Liberal’s vaccine mandate plans for how those with “legitimate reasons” for not getting vaccinated will be accommodated, including Canadians with medical, cultural and religious reasons, as well as those with inadequate access to vaccines and information regarding them.

Dr. Devyani Singh, the Green party candidate for Vancouver Quadra, said in an interview with The Ubyssey that the Green Party “believe in public health measures that are taken to reduce the burden on our hospitals.”

Singh also highlighted that she feels there is “a lot of place[s] for improvement” in the implementation of COVID-19 policies as well as for “how governments are conveying the science.”

Coming out of the pandemic

The Greens have committed to investing in vaccine research and their domestic production, writing that Canada’s lack of capacity to manufacture vaccines “must change.”

This article is part of The Ubyssey's 2021 federal election coverage. To read more, click here.