Policy on COVID-19 vaccination Summary Report of 2022 FBEC Survey

Background and objectives

  • In October 2021, the Government of Canada (GC) introduced the Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the Core Public Administration Including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the Policy). This policy made full vaccination against SARS-Cov-2 mandatory for all its employees. Non-compliance could lead to a leave without pay (LWOP).
  • While the Policy clearly affected all employees, there have been anecdotal concerns and complaints about it from the Black federal employee community. These anecdotes were reported to the Federal Black Employee Caucus (FBEC), which has a mandate to advocate for and promote equity and inclusion for Black employees within the Federal Public Service (FPS) of Canada.
  • GC has repeatedly acknowledged that there exists anti-Black racism in the FPS and has committed to eradicate systemic racism in the workplace. In alignment with GC’s priorities, FBEC secured services of Black experts to determine whether the Policy had been negatively affecting Black employees excessively.


  • Between March and May 2022, FBEC invited Black federal employees across Canada to voluntarily participate in an anonymous online survey.
  • The survey questionnaire had 15 questions (none mandatory): seven questions on demographics; seven questions on core issues related to the Policy (concerns, experience about an accommodation request, impacts); and one question for general comments.
  • The experts summed up the number of responses for single-choice and multiple-choice questions. They also reviewed and summarized free-text comments.
  • In addition, one expert combined FBEC survey data to publicly available GC data, to perform an equity analysis. Because GC data are not broken down by race, this expert used key data from the survey sample as estimates for the entire community of Black employees in the FPS.


  • In total, 1,001 Black federal employees participated in the survey (approximately 11% of all Black employees in the GoC, as of March 31, 2021). The sample was diverse, with representation of more than two sex/genders, both official languages, more than 100 departments/agencies, all provinces and territories, and a mix of Executives and non-Executive staff in a range of job categories and at different levels.
  • Although 209/847 (25%) respondents did not report any concerns about the Policy, 638/847 (75%) did report some, primarily about vaccines’ side effects (n=419) and effectiveness (n=393).
  • While 328/841 (39%) respondents said they had not experienced any negative impacts attributed to the Policy, 513/841 (61%) did, mostly stress (n=471) and mental health issues (n=396). Also, 440/834 (53%) felt that their privacy was affected.
  • Overall, 480 participants reported a total of 491 accommodation requests, of which 18 were granted and 473 were denied. A hundred and sixteen participants said that they ended up on administrative (LWOP) due to non-compliance with the Policy.
  • Assuming that these counts are the totals for the entire population of Black federal employees, and aligning them with counts published for all federal public servants about the Policy (BackgrounderReported attestations), this would mean that:
    • of all the 2,598 accommodation requests submitted, 491 (18.9%) were submitted by Black employees.
    • of all the 993 requests granted, only 18 (1.8%) were granted to Black employees.
    • of all 906 denied requests, 473 (52.2%) were denied to Black employees; and
    • of all 2,108 LWOP imposed for non-compliance, 116 (5.5%) were imposed to Black employees.


  • During the Policy implementation period, Black employees represented about 3.8% of all Federal Public Service employees (estimate as of March 31, 2021).
  • FBEC survey indicates that Black employees were excessively affected by the administrative burden related to accommodation requests, by the rejection of these requests, and by LWOP relative to the Policy. (see image below).
  • In the absence of more detailed official data about the outcomes of the Policy (collected by GC), such concerning findings cannot be ignored.