COVID-19 vaccine mandate for B.C. government workers ending April 3
The B.C. government is ending its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for many provincial employees.
In an announcement Friday, the province announced that – beginning April 3 – BC Public Service employees will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
Workers in many health-care settings remain subject to orders from the provincial health officer and are still required to be vaccinated, the government noted.
The announcement came just an hour before Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry were scheduled to speak at a news conference.
The pair announced plans for a "spring booster" vaccination campaign for residents particularly susceptible to the coronavirus, but Dix began his remarks by commenting on the end of the mandate for public service workers.
"It reflects what a lot of employers are doing and, overall, the advice of public health," Dix said.
In its announcement, the provincial Ministry of Finance said the decision to rescind the vaccine mandate "was made based on the high level of vaccination among public-service employees and the current state of the pandemic."
More than 98 per cent of BC Public Service employees met the requirement, according to the ministry.
"Rescinding the vaccination policy means a small number of employees on administrative leave due to non-compliance will be provided the opportunity to return to the workplace," the ministry's statement reads.
"The Public Service Agency has provided direction to ministries and will work with supervisors to support a smooth transition. This change also means that contractors and other non-employees do not need to be vaccinated to enter BC Public Service workplaces."
The vaccine mandate for public service employees was first implemented in November 2021, and the ministry said Friday that it was "always intended as a temporary measure."
"While it is now possible to remove this policy, the pandemic is not over and the Public Service Agency continues to encourage all BC Public Service employees to remain up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, including booster doses."
Henry echoed that sentiment in her remarks Friday, saying "COVID-19 is still with us," and noting that she foresees another mass vaccination campaign with additional booster doses in the fall.
Asked about the distinction between the lifting of the mandate for public service workers and continuing the mandate for health-care workers, Henry stressed that the type of workplace is the key consideration.
"My advice applies to health-care settings," she said. "Those provincial health officer orders remain in place because that is the highest-risk setting, both for health-care workers and for our patients and residents in our care."
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