The B.C. government’s vaccination mandate for its employees beyond the health care system takes effect next week, with staff of all other employers entering public service workplaces subject to proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Dec. 13.
The province’s proof-of-vaccine mandate does not extend to members of the public going to a provincial office to receive a government service. The mandate also doesn’t affect public school employees, who are employed by B.C.’s 60 school districts that must determine their own employment rules.
Provincial agencies including B.C. Hydro and the Insurance Corp. of B.C. have also brought in proof-of-vaccination policies for their workers.
For other provincial jobs, supervisors began requesting proof of vaccination on Nov. 8, with full vaccination required by Nov. 22 that includes 14 days for immunity to develop after two shots. Nov. 8 was also the date for new hires to the B.C. public service to report their vaccination status.
The vaccine mandate has persuaded many health care employees to get their shots. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Nov. 9 that an additional 1,500 health care workers had taken an approved COVID-19 vaccine in the previous week, after 3,300 people in health care were served notice that they would be put on unpaid leave.
Of the 2,071 health care workers still not vaccinated, 1,032 were casual employees, 989 full time and 819 part-time. Dix said the largest contributor to staff loss in the health care system remains COVID-19 infection itself, which forces people to self-isolate for two weeks if they don’t require medical treatment.
Federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough has indicated that people who refuse to be vaccinated or to disclose their vaccination status would likely not be eligible for Employment Insurance. Vaccination would be considered a condition of employment, and not complying be “seen typically as a choice” rather than losing their job due to conditions they do not control.