The Canadian government announced on Monday that British Columbia Public Service employees who are unvaccinated as of Nov. 22 will be put on unpaid leave for up to three months.
While the deadline for the vaccine mandate had been announced last month, this is the first time details have been released publicly.
The vaccination requirement applies to any of the approximately 32,000 BC Public Service employees, whether they work on-site or remotely, and also includes employees of any board, commission, agency, or organization to which the Public Service Act applies or whose employees are hired in accordance with the Public Service Act.
Employees must prove their immunization status by showing their BC Vaccine Card. Those who are unvaccinated will be placed on unpaid leave for three months, while partially vaccinated staff may be offered “alternative work arrangements” and are required to get their second dose within 35 days. If they do not, they will be placed on unpaid leave for three months.
Any employees who are still unvaccinated after the three months are up may lose their jobs. Health Minister Adrian Dix said during a later press conference that employees who require accommodations due to medical concerns may be exempt. Those who choose not to be vaccinated or disclose status to employers risk eventual job loss.
Contractors and other people accessing employee-only areas of indoor public service workplaces must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 13, not including members of the public.
Healthcare workers who remain unvaccinated will be placed on unpaid leave and must receive the first dose by Nov. 15 in order to retain their jobs, unless they have a medical exemption. From October 26th healthcare workers in British Columbia were required to be immunized against COVID-19.
The mandate includes anyone who works in any kind of healthcare setting, including students, volunteers, physicians, residents, contractors, and all other healthcare professionals. It also applies to people who work in home and community care locations, including client homes.
While the Ministry of Health admits this will create challenges, such as delayed surgeries and intermittent hospital bed closures, Health Minister Adrian Dix is firm that the vaccine mandate is necessary. As for teachers and support staff in British Columbia, The elected board decided that it will not mandate covid-19 vaccines.