Vancouver announces vaccine mandate for city staff
People employed by the City of Vancouver will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 6.
The vaccine mandate by the publicly-funded body comes as B.C. endures a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and as many other large employers, such as ski resorts, the provincial public service and BC Hydro, have done the same.
“This new policy is a further step toward limiting the impacts of the virus on our community and aligns with the recommendation from the provincial health officer for large employers to implement vaccine mandates,” reads a statement released Monday by the city.
A representative for the city said the policy will affect about 8,000 workers, but won't be applied to library staff or police.
The mandate does not affect elected city councillors and park board commissioners, but it does affect park board staff and firefighters.
Employees of the Vancouver Public Library and the Vancouver Police Department are “separate entities” whose boards must first approve the policy separately from the city, according to the city.
The city says employees who do not comply with the new mandate will not be permitted in the workplace. It did not specify whether they would be fired, or placed on administrative leave either with or without pay.
Elected officials are not affected by the policy because there are ”different legal considerations in respect of such officials,” said a representative for the city in a statement.
“If City Councillors, or Park Board Commissioners, wished to impose such a policy upon themselves, the City believes that it is better for them to approve and adopt their own policy,” said the representative.
“Throughout the pandemic, the City has focused on the health and safety of its staff, local residents and businesses,” said city manager Paul Mochrie in a statement.
“We continue to follow direction from public health in our workplaces, and this mandatory vaccination policy will help provide a further level of protection against this virus for City staff and the public we serve.”
The city also says that employees who require an exemption from the policy on the basis of a protected legal ground, such as for medical or other grounds protected under the BC Human Rights Code.
“Public health has consistently reported that a higher percentage of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among those who are unvaccinated. Vaccines provide a high level of protection against COVID-19 and related variants,” the statement continues.
In a separately released statement, Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he supports the mandate and lauds the leadership of the city’s managing staff.
“Having all City staff fully vaccinated by Dec. 6 is another step towards building on our success as a community and making sure we put the health of our workers and the public first,” Stewart said.
“My thanks to city manager Paul Mochrie, our city’s leadership team, union leadership, and every single employee at the City of Vancouver for demonstrating leadership in the fight against COVID-19.”
Oct. 18: A previous version of this story said that 12,000 city employees would be affected by the vaccine mandate - a figure provided by the City of Vancouver. Later the city corrected that number for 8,000. The story has been updated to reflect the change.