FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John is looking to make its workplace more inclusive when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations by providing an alternative for staff.

The City is pushing back the implementation of its vaccine requirement policy to February 4th and is also providing a testing program for those choosing to stay unvaccinated.

CAO Milo MacDonald says the policy has been in development for a while, and the City is going in this direction to accommodate all staff members.

“This decision is a big deal for many people, and we don’t take that lightly.There are some people that are willing to walk away from their appointment if it’s not handled properly. We have a great team and there’s nobody that we want to lose,” said MacDonald.

He adds that the City’s administration team is doing everything it can to balance everyone’s safety interests and people’s right to choose.

“I mean, we were trying to be respectful of the wishes of those staff members that do feel a sense of reluctance or hesitancy around vaccines.”

City administration consulted with unions, staff members, and reviewed policies put in place by other levels of government.  In turn, the administration was able to take the best practices identified from other municipalities to incorporate them into its own.

MacDonald says it took some time to build, but he believes the research and consultations made the policy stronger.

Council confirmed their commitment to abide by the program at the December 13th closed council meeting, according to City spokesperson Ryan Harvey.

As for the effects of the new policy, it is still too early to know if the City will feel any impact due to the new option.

“At this time, it is still too early to know the impacts on any service delivery; however, we are confident we will continue to provide the quality services our community expects,” Harvey said.