Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is not looking at bringing back a federal mask mandate.
The federal government ended mandatory masking for federally regulated industries, such as air and train transportation, in October 2022 — but it still encourages masking in public indoor settings.
Some health experts have been calling for a return to mandatory masking as hospital emergency rooms deal with a surge of viral infections, including COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
In a year-end interview with CBC News Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton, Trudeau said a federal mask mandate alone would have little effect compared to public health measures the provinces could introduce.
“The federal mask mandate was on federally-regulated industries. That is, particularly, planes and trains and those sorts of things,” Trudeau said.
“Most of the experiences in people’s lives, whether it’s in a grocery store or going to their workplaces, are regulated by the provinces.”
Trudeau said it’s not up to him to decide whether to bring back a federal mask mandate.
“That’s not my decision to make. That is based on the best recommendations of our public health authorities and our health officials,” Trudeau said.
“They are not recommending at this time that the federal government move forward.”
The full interview will air on CBC Television on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
Watch: Trudeau says he has no plans to bring back federal mask mandate:
Some countries, such as the United States, are providing free masks to the public in an effort to encourage masking.
In a November 2022 news conference, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam encouraged masking — but didn’t indicate that federal government has any plans to introduce a mandate.
“I think it’s an interesting and important consideration. It depends on what the reasons are for people maybe not wearing masks at this point,” Tam said.
CBC News Special: A Year-End Interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will air on CBC Television on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. (12:00 p.m. NT).