Should dismissed and unvaccinated provincial employees be brought back to work now? – vote

BC is fulfilling its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public servants and healthcare professionals, although the federal government has lifted its two-dose requirement for federally regulated workers and travelers.

BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said he continues to support last year’s provincial health order, requiring all health workers in hospitals, nursing homes and community health centers to be vaccinated, as well as the order in the council that made vaccination a condition of employment for civil servants.

“I wouldn’t expect any changes in terms of office anytime soon,” Dix said in an interview on Monday.

BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon last week urged the BC government to follow Ottawa’s lead in lifting vaccine requirements for provincial officials and healthcare workers.

“British Columbia is out of step with the rest of the country in that regard,” Falcon said. “We have a situation now that justifies the immediate lifting of the vaccine mandate.”

Falcon said the vaccine requirement is worsening the critical shortage of health workers that has seen the temporary closure of emergency rooms in rural communities on the island, as well as health officials in the north and interior.

About 190,000 healthcare workers – including around 50,000 in long-term care – were vaccinated for COVID-19 under a provincial health order. About 99 percent were vaccinated and the rest lost their jobs for not doing so.

BC’s Public Service Agency required its 30,000 employees to be fully vaccinated. As of April 20, it said, 402 employees have not been vaccinated or refused to disclose their vaccination status as required by the COVID-19 vaccination policy, and about 150 have lost their jobs.

The agency said Monday that its vaccination policy remains in effect, with nearly 99% of employees fully vaccinated. “As the pandemic is not over and its trajectory remains uncertain, the Public Service of BC believes it is prudent to maintain the vaccination policy.”

Falcon said some 2,500 health workers and other public service workers are sidelined “at a time when the health care system is, to use the prime minister’s own words, crumbling and wavering.”

Dix said the federal government appears to want to overturn the two vaccine mandates, “but I disagree with them.”

The health minister said the problem is not mandates, but COVID-19, which continues to profoundly affect the health system. He said there is an ongoing need to protect long-term care and assisted living residents, as well as patients in intensive care settings and the broader healthcare system.

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