Union pushback leads to extension of vaccine mandate deadline for Vancouver city, transit workers
Some major employers in Metro Vancouver are extending the deadlines for workers to prove they're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after decisions made by B.C.'s Labour Relations Board.
With COVID-19 continuing to spread and new variants of concern emerging, some B.C. employers have implemented policies requiring workers to prove they're vaccinated against the disease. For example, public service employees, transit workers and city staff in some municipalities all must show they've had two shots.
But some vaccine mandates have been pushed back after decisions made by the province's Labour Relations Board.
The City of Vancouver's vaccine mandate for stuff was supposed to come into effect on Dec. 6, but on Dec. 1, an internal notice announced the deadline was extended by a month.
"We have adjusted our timeline to reflect recent developments arising out of challenges to the introduction of the policy that were filed by CUPE 15 and CUPE 1004 under the Labour Relations Code," the city said in a statement to CTV News Vancouver, adding that those who don't have proof of vaccination by the deadline or approved accommodations won't be cleared for work as of Jan. 7.
The city initially announced its vaccine mandate on Oct. 18, giving workers 50 days to show their vaccine proof. In notices posted online, CUPE 15 said it filed Section 54 notices to the employer and to the labour board requiring 60-day notice for the policy to be implemented.
Under the Labour Relations Code, employers must give at least 60 days' notice before introducing a new policy that affects the terms of employment in a collective agreement with a union.
While the union filed a notice to the Labour Relations Board, a decision specifically on the city's mandate hasn't been posted. However, the city did note other decisions were recently issued "for other public-sector employers around the advance-notice requirement for proof-of-vaccination policies," adding that it "extended our deadline based on the rationale set out in those rulings."
'UNREASONABLE' TIMELINES, UNION SAYS
One of those decisions was regarding B.C. Rapid Transit Company employees, who operate Metro Vancouver's three SkyTrain lines as well as the West Coast Express.
TransLink announced its vaccine mandate on Oct. 8, saying all employees of TransLink, Coast Mountain Bus Company, BC Rapid Transit Company and Transit Police would need to prove they were fully vaccinated by Nov. 29. That gave employees 53 days' notice.
According to the Labour Relations Board's decision, Tony Rebelo, CUPE 7000 president, emailed the employer's relations manager on Oct. 18 requesting a delay in the policy.
"The announced timeline that our members must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 29 means those who have not received a vaccine as of yet must receive their first dose by Nov. 1," the letter, included in the board's decision, said.
"The company's failure to produce this policy in a timely manner is a significant problem. Please push back these timelines as they are now unreasonable."
The labour board's decision said Rebelo was told the timeline would not be delayed and the formal vaccine policy was released to workers on Oct. 21.
Further details on previous labour board decisions considered in Vice-Chair Andres Barker's decision can be seen online, but in the end, he decided the employer breached Section 54 "by failing to give notice to the union at least 60 days before the date on which the policy takes effect."
In an emailed statement to CTV News Vancouver, TransLink acknowledged the board's decision, saying the deadline has been extended for all company employees, and not just those in the B.C. Rapid Transit Company.
"Following a decision by the B.C. Labour Relations Board on Friday, Nov. 26, TransLink, Coast Mountain Bus Company and British Columbia Rapid Transit Company are extending the deadline for employees to submit their proof of full vaccination by three weeks to midnight Dec. 20, 2021," TransLink said.
'EVERYONE WHO CAN GET VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19 SHOULD': UNION PRESIDENT
Following the City of Vancouver's decision to pre-emptively extend the deadline on its vaccine policy, CUPE 15 issued a statement on Dec. 4 saying it's "bound by legislation to uphold our duty of fair representation to the entirety of our membership."
"The union continues to support the maintenance of all appropriate safety measures, and there are alternatives to a vaccine mandate that would ensure safety going forward," the union's statement said.
"Thus, our focus at this point must be on the members facing the most imminent peril, those whose livelihoods are at risk."
It's unclear what the union's next steps will be, but its statement says there will be a meeting with the city as part of its policy grievance process.
Even so, a letter posted by the union's president that same day strongly encouraged all members to get vaccinated "at their earliest opportunity."
"Vaccines are an important part of ensuring our workplaces are safe for everyone, and CUPE has always placed a priority on our members’ health and safety. Our members have the right to be safe at work, and people have the right to receive public services in a safe environment," Warren Williams said in his letter.
"We are hearing from members with concerns about requirements for mandatory vaccines from differing sides of the issue and I want to clarify CUPE 15's position. Everyone who can get vaccinated against COVID-19 should."
Vancouver Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
As a convoy of truckers head to Ottawa to protest the federal government's cross-border vaccine mandate, some truckers are distancing themselves from the movement as it attracts support from fringe groups and generates dangerous rhetoric.
While vaccines have played a major role in protecting long-term care homes from the same deadly toll the first wave of COVID-19 took on residents, the impact has still been profound during the Omicron wave.
As a convoy of truckers made its way through Ontario on Thursday, hundreds of supporters gathered along roadways and overpasses in the Greater Toronto Area, with police warning of major traffic delays.
CTV NEWS IN UKRAINE | New York, Ukraine: City close to Russian border watches prospect of invasion closely
Residents of a Ukrainian city near the Russian border who have sought to distance themselves from the historical influence of their neighbour are now feeling the unease of a potential invasion.
CTV NEWS IN AFGHANISTAN | 'We have nothing now': Female taekwondo star banned from sport by Taliban
Anzorat Wali is a female Afghan taekwondo star who took up the sport to learn self defence. She swiftly began earning medals, more golds than she can remember, but her dream of competing in the Olympics died the day the Taliban arrived. 'We have nothing now. We have nothing,' she tells CTV National News' Paul Workman in Kabul.
Canadian musician Jann Arden said writing her newest album in the middle of the pandemic gave her 'a lot of time to be reflective.' The writing process for 'Descendant,' Arden's 15th studio album out Friday, began in the spring of 2020, in the early days of the global outbreak of COVID-19.
MPs are being warned about security risks related to the trucker convoy heading to Ottawa, gas prices could hit record highs in parts of the country, and sentencing submissions are expected in an Ontario terrorism case. Here's what you need to know today.
Gas prices are expected to reach record highs in parts of the country ahead of the weekend.
A deer that had fallen through the ice-covered Westwood Lake in Nanaimo, B.C. was rescued by firefighters on Tuesday afternoon.
B.C. health officials say 13 new COVID-19-related deaths were confirmed across the province Thursday, including one in Island Health. The update brings B.C.'s pandemic death toll to 2,588, including 168 deaths in Island Health.
'People want to save money': Popularity of consignment and thrift stores growing as cost of living climbs
If you find your dollar isn't going as far as it once did, you are not alone. That means more people are turning to consignment and thrift stores to save a buck.
Alberta reported 14 new COVID-19 deaths on Thursday as hospitalizations continue to put pressure on the health-care system.
Alberta's nurses have overwhelmingly ratified a new collective bargaining agreement.
Premier Jason Kenney says he wants to eliminate Alberta's COVID-19 vaccine passport program as soon as it's safe to do so.
Ontario's top doctor says it’s time to 'learn to live with COVID-19' as he anticipates the province is in for a much better spring.
Although the scale of COVID-19 and its impact on the Canadian health-care system has been unprecedented, there are lessons to be learned from previous viruses, some of which are being used right here in Ontario.
There's nothing standard about Ontario's provincewide high school math test this year.
As Canadian truckers and their supporters make their way from western Canada to Ottawa this weekend, Quebec truckers are expected to gather at several border crossings, including Lacolle, Stanstead and St-Theophile, hoping to support the cause.
Quebec public health officials expect 'modest' drop in hospitalizations, measures to be relaxed weekly
The number of patients in Quebec hospitals is expected to dip over the next few weeks based on projections, but public health officials warn sanitary measures need to be lifted cautiously and gradually.
Five years after a gunman killed six men inside a Quebec City mosque, survivors of the attack and members of the community will gather to mark the tragedy.
New national guidelines aimed at improving the quality of life and care for people in nursing homes are now available for public review and feedback.
Family of four found frozen to death near Canada-U.S. border identified; RCMP investigation continues
Four people who froze to death while trying to cross the Canada-U.S. border in Manitoba have been identified. According to a release from the High Commission of India, the four people have been identified as Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel, 39, Vaishaliben Jagdishkumar Patel, 37, Vihangi Jagdishkumar Patel, 11, and Dharmik Jagdishkumar Patel, 3.
As of Friday, Saskatchewan parents and caregivers are no longer required to tell schools if their child has COVID-19 - a decision that isn't sitting well with two Saskatoon parents.
Saskatchewan Medical Health Officer Saqib Shahab compared living with the Omicron COVID-19 variant to the annual flu season.
The province is lowering the self-isolation period to five days for unvaccinated residents, effective Friday. Unvaccinated residents were previously required to self-isolate for 10 days.
'I would never do that': Former doctor responds to sexual assault allegations from fifth and final complainant
Sylvester Ukabam, a former doctor accused of sexually assaulting five patients, responded to allegations from the fifth and final complainant from the witness stand on Thursday morning.
Saskatchewan reported another 1,273 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with two more deaths.
A low-pressure system east of Florida will merge with a cold front to develop into a powerful winter storm that will move northward, just off the eastern U.S. seaboard, before crossing Nova Scotia into the Gulf of St. Lawrence by Sunday.
Halifax Regional Police has arrested a 12-year-old boy from Dartmouth, N.S. following a robbery at a variety store.
Hundreds of Maritimers lined highways, packed parking lots and showed their support on Thursday for the rally of truckers headed to Ottawa, protesting Canada-wide COVID-19 mandates.
Another school in London, Ont. has been shut down to in-person classes because of staffing issues related to COVID-19.
Shielded by anonymity, a survey of London city councillors offers an unvarnished look at how they view their salary, workload, and colleagues.
Supporters showed up in droves, converging on highway overpasses and along roadways waving flags and signs, backing the 'Freedom Convoy' as it made its way through London, Ont. Thursday.
Those who need to get warm are heading to the transit terminal in the North Bay's downtown.
Various legion branches of the Royal Canadian Legion are distributing funds from the 2021 Poppy Campaign.
Addictions and Mental Health Advocates have opened a new community hub on Gore Street, with the hope of filling the void left by the shutdown of the neighbourhood resource centre.
Two housing units at A Better Tent City in Kitchener were damaged Thursday in a fire.
Ontarians will be allowed to eat at sporting events on Monday, will not need to provide contact information
Ontario has released more details about what individuals should expect when the province moves to the first step of the latest reopening plan.
In November 2021, the Waterloo Regional Police Service decided to close its Rural North Division in Elmira and instead deploy officers from the North Division in Waterloo, about 13 kilometres away.