Public service employees in B.C. must get vaccinated, province says

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An estimated 30,000 government employees in British Columbia will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The BC Public Service Agency said Tuesday the requirement is part of an effort to increase vaccination rates throughout the province.

It has set Nov. 22 as a deadline for workers in core government services or ministries to show proof of vaccination using the BC Vaccine card.

The service said that allows enough time for people who have not yet received both doses of a vaccine to comply with the requirement.

Details about accommodations that will be made for the “few people” who are unable to be vaccinated are expected to be announced by early next month, the service said.

More than 80 per cent of eligible B.C. residents have now been fully vaccinated.

The federal government has announced a vaccine mandate covering federal public servants, but neither the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a union representing federal employees, nor the Treasury Board of Canada has said when it would take effect.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that the public service has been working on the matter with unions and that an announcement would be made in the “coming weeks.”

B.C.’s provincial health officer also announced Tuesday that all visitors to long-term care and assisted living facilities will need to show proof of vaccination as of Oct. 12, the same day staff and volunteers in those settings are also required to be vaccinated.

And as of Oct. 26, all visitors to acute care settings, including hospitals, will be required to show proof of vaccination, although Dr. Bonnie Henry says exceptions will be made for certain settings like palliative care.

All health-care workers in B.C. must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 26 as a condition of their employment, and the head of the teachers union has said she supports a vaccine mandate for educators, as long as those who can’t be immunized are accommodated.

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said Monday that public health staff are monitoring the COVID-19 situation in schools and would make decisions based on those assessments but that the B.C. Teachers Federation has reported high vaccine uptake rates among its members.

The board of education in New Westminster is seeking a legal opinion on a vaccine mandate for school staff, with a report due back on Oct. 12.

READ MORE: B.C. introducing COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all health-care workers

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