B.C. dropping COVID-19 vaccine requirement for provincial public servants

British Columbia is rescinding its policy that required provincial public servants to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Needles are seen filled with the vaccination for COVID-19 are shown in North in Delta, B.C., Wednesday, June 16, 2021. British Columbia is rescinding its policy that required provincial public servants to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

VICTORIA, B.C. — British Columbia is rescinding its policy that required provincial public servants to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The province says that from April 3, BC Public Service employees will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination.

The Ministry of Finance says in a statement the decision to rescind the policy was made “based on the high level of vaccination among public-service employees and the current state of the pandemic.”

It says more than 98 per cent of employees met the requirement.

The statement says ending the policy means “a small number” of employees on administrative leave due to non-compliance will get the chance to come back to work.

The government says people are still required to be vaccinated if they work in settings under provincial health officer orders or other vaccination requirements and vaccine mandates remain in place in “highest-risk” settings like health-care facilities.

“The vaccination requirement for public-service employees, introduced in November 2021, was always intended as a temporary measure to help protect employees and the people they serve,” the statement says.

It adds that vaccination “continues to be the best protection against severe illness with COVID-19 for individuals, including children and youth, and has helped protect B.C.’s health-care system and the economy.”

Stephanie Smith, president of the BC General Employees’ Union, says the union has requested a meeting with the BC Public Service Agency to discuss the change and ensure all members received “equitable treatment” under the now-rescinded policy.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, BCGEU members have demanded clarity on how employers’ decisions affect us and our working lives,” she says in a statement. “Our union has a number of questions about how this change will impact our members.”

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